B and I had a weekend off together, and properly enjoyed it, making the most of Saturday’s sunshine and warmth by sipping coffee and people watching outside in the morning, before picnicking and having a good enough attempt at a ramble in the country in the afternoon. We topped the rest of the day off by dining and relaxing in style, then spent Sunday in the kitchen together whipping up some treats. By evening, we’d had enough of indulgent foods and were ready for something a bit simpler, but without sacrificing on taste… This chicken broth was just the thing, warming, soothing, and oh-so clean feeling, with lots of flavour and a hint of spice – I’ll be craving it again soon, I’m sure!
Mibuna wasn’t something either of us had ever heard of until it turned up in our veg box. We were sent a huge bag of what looked like baby leaves of it, and the description said it was Japanese in origin, a bit like a hybrid of kale and pak choi. Raw, it tasted great – a bit like a slightly peppery, mustardy salad leaf. In the broth it wilted down swiftly, and worked perfectly with the flavours used. I particularly liked the stems, which although thin were juicy, and had that refreshing bite that you get with pak choi. I’d recommend you seeking it out if you haven’t tried it and are a green veg fan – I can’t wait to eat it again!
2 chicken drumsticks
1 medium onion
1 medium carrot
A few chestnut mushrooms
6 spring onions
1/2 small fennel bulb
4 sticks of celery
A few generous handfuls of mibuna (or you could substitute spinach, rocket, or baby pak choi)
A handful dried shitake mushrooms
3 cloves garlic
1 thumb sized piece of ginger
2 red chillies
1 stick lemongrass
1 star anise
About 10 black peppercorns
1 tsp. Chinese 5 spice
1 tsp. fish sauce
2 tbsp. soy sauce
Stock cube/bouillon powder (you may not need this, depending on how much flavour your chicken bones give out)
1 bay leaf
A handful of coriander
1 tsp. fennel seeds
Begin by preparing your vegetables – finely dice the onion and set aside. Cut the carrot in half, and chop one half into batons (a couple of inches in length.) Throw these in a bowl. Slice two of the celery sticks into similar pieces, add to the bowl. Do the same with four of the spring onions (setting aside the green tops), and then finely slice the fennel (reserving the outer layers and the tough stems growing out of the bulb.) Then, chop the mushrooms and add to the bowl.
Roughly cut the remaining carrot and celery and put in a medium saucepan, along with the spring onion tops, reserved fennel, dried mushrooms, peppercorns, star anise, and bay leaf. Bash the garlic cloves, slice the top off one of the chillies, cut a slit down the lemongrass stick, and cut the ginger into matchsticks, then throw all of these in, too. Finely slice the remaining spring onions (adding the tops to the saucepan) and set aside to garnish later. Also, remove the seeds from the remaining chilli and chop finely, and roughly chop the coriander – set both aside.
Now, brown the chicken drumsticks in a small saucepan. When done, transfer to the pan with the veg and spices. Pour in about 600ml of boiling water, and bring to the boil, adding the 5 spice and fish sauce. Reduce the heat, and simmer with a lid.
Meanwhile, fry the onion in the pan you browned the chicken in. When golden, add the vegetables from the bowl and the soy sauce and cook until just softened. Turn off the heat and set the pan aside.
When the broth has been simmering for 25-30 minutes, check the chicken. If cooked, remove from the pan, and remove the flesh. Return the bones to the broth, and shred the meat into the pan with the cooked vegetables. Simmer the broth for another 20-30 minutes, until the vegetables and bones have released their flavours. Taste, and add seasoning or a little bouillon, if wanted, then use a potato masher to squash everything together to make sure you squeeze out every last bit of flavour, before straining the broth (discard your squished veg and spices) into the pan with the shredded chicken and vegetables. Add most of the coriander, reserving a little for garnish. Stir through. Cut the mibuna leaves in half, then sprinkle them on top of the broth and put the lid back on. Cook just above a simmer until just wilted, about four minutes. Serve scattered with the chopped spring onion, chilli and fennel seeds, and a squeeze of lime, if you like.