Karen Biggs makes a delicious, simple meal of noodles in a highly seasoned broth. Wear gloves when working with the chilies or wash hands thoroughly afterward. Look for fresh Chinese noodles, either egg-based or plain, in the refrigerator case of many supermarkets or in Asian markets; if you cannot find them, substitute any dried or fresh thin noodle.
3 stalks fresh lemon grass (10 to 12 in. long)
1/2 bunch cilantro (about 2 oz.), rinsed
5 cups fat-skimmed chicken broth or vegetable broth
1/2 cup chopped green onions (including tops)
6 thin slices (quarter size) peeled fresh ginger
3 fresh hot red chilies (about 2 1/2 in. long), rinsed, stemmed, seeded, and quartered (see note above)
3 cloves garlic, peeled
1 teaspoon black peppercorns
9 ounces fresh thin Chinese noodles (see note above)
How to Make It
Rinse lemon grass; cut off and discard tough tops and root ends. Peel off and discard coarse outer layers, then crush the tender inner part with the flat side of a large knife. Coarsely chop 1/4 cup cilantro leaves, reserving stems (save extra leaves for other uses).
In a 4- to 6-quart pan, combine broth, crushed lemon grass, cilantro stems, 1/4 cup green onions, ginger, chilies, garlic, and peppercorns. Bring to a simmer over high heat; cover, reduce heat to maintain a simmer, and cook 30 minutes. Pour through a strainer over a large bowl; discard solids.
Meanwhile, in another 4- to 6-quart pan over high heat, bring about 3 quarts water to a boil. Add noodles and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender to bite, 2 to 3 minutes. Drain.
Divide noodles between two large soup bowls and ladle broth over noodles. Sprinkle with chopped cilantro and remaining 1/4 cup green onions.