1 pound skinless, boneless chicken, cut into 1-inch chunks
Thai fish sauce (nam pla)
1/4 cup rice vinegar
1/4 cup soy sauce
2 cups pea shoots or stemmed watercress
1 1/2 cups shredded Napa cabbage
1 cup mung bean sprouts
1/2 cup chopped unsalted peanuts
1/2 cup cilantro leaves
1/2 cup minced scallions
Asian chili sauce
Asian sesame oil
Freshly ground white pepper
Put the rice noodles in a large bowl and cover with warm water. Set aside and soak the noodles until pliable, about 20 minutes; drain and reserve.
In a large saucepan, bring the chicken stock to a boil. Reduce the heat to low, add the chicken and simmer until just cooked through, about 5 minutes. Transfer the chicken to a bowl. Season the stock with salt and fish sauce. Cover the saucepan and keep the stock at a bare simmer over low heat.
In a small bowl, combine the rice vinegar and soy sauce. Arrange the pea shoots, cabbage and bean sprouts on a platter. Put the lime wedges, peanuts, cilantro and scallions in small bowls. Arrange all of the condiments and toppings on the table along with the Asian chili sauce, sesame oil and white pepper.
Bring a large saucepan of water to a boil; have ready a strainer or colander that will fit inside the pan. Return the chicken to the stock. For each serving, put one-sixth of the noodles in the strainer and dip it into the boiling water; swirl until the noodles are al dente, about 40 seconds. Lift the strainer and shake to drain the noodles; transfer them to a soup bowl. Ladle some of the stock and chicken over the noodles; repeat for the remaining 5 servings. Let your guests garnish and season their soups as they wish.
A fruity, low-alcohol Chenin Blanc from Washington State will balance the strong flavors of the fish and chili sauces.