Saturday, January 17, 2009

Thank God for China

I make all my own broth and soup stock, and my recipes are sound and never fail. They are simple and easy, if you've got the time to make them. Chicken stock, beef stock, veg stock and seafood stock all provide the base for much of my cooking, whether making enchiladas, soup, etouffe, gumbo or even simple boiled shrimp.

But leave it to the Chinese to provide us with the simplest and most wholesome of all stocks. Prime stock is perfect for all manner of soups, while clear stock is great for cooking and seasoning, sauces and reductions. They are made with the same set of ingredients:

Equal parts poultry, lean pork (bones optional), and ham (bones optional). Use junk cuts and leftovers, like the bones from your barbecue.

That's it!

Just put everything in a pot, cover with water, bring to a boil, skim the shit that rises to the top, cover partially and simmer for three hours. Strain and cool. That's prime stock.

Remove the ingredients, clean the pot, put the ingredients back in, cover with water, bring to a boil, cover partially and simmer for two hours. Strain and cool. That's clear stock.

With the same set of ingredients, you end up with two completely different stocks, ready for any number of recipes. The simplicity is its beauty, something only the Chinese could invent.

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