I know that I may have been a little (a little?) explicit about my harsh feelings toward this sad little place called Beijing. But I realized that sucks-ass it may (or certainly) be, moving here is undeniably a blessing in disguise when it comes to how my cooking has evolved. With all the convenience that came with living in New York, I would never have learnt about fresh pasta, layery biscuits, insanely flaky pies, crazy buttery brioche, plus many more that has yet to come next. And of course this, homemade golden broth. One may question if this is really worth its own post. Yes, yes it does. Because it’s NOT JUST your average chicken stock.
When it comes to broth, I don’t know what you’re into but I’m fixated on deep, dense, rich-to-a-point-of-milky-ness, lips-sticking broth (you know those ramen soup so milky it raises suspicion of cream as an ingredients?), and deem everything else unworthy. But for years I’ve settled for less in exchange for convenience (shaaaamme….). Now I’m here and that option was taken away from me (may I still sulk a little?), I started researching on how to achieve that level of intensity I look for in broth (if you were one of the few chefs I harassed briefly, I apologize) and let me tell you, now that even if I COULD have the convenience of whatever high-quality canned/packaged broth from the store, I wouldn’t have it. Because it just doesn’t match this. Imagine if every muscle, skin and bones of chickens and pigs have a soul, and there’s a raging hell where they get boiled, burned and rendered unrecognizable, then reincarnate back on earth as a delicious symphony of crazy-flavor-packed singing molecules that is bonded eternally with H2O… Well, this is that. Infinitely better than packaged stuff.
Make it. I know it may seem like time-consuming (it’s really just a couple of DVD’s time!), but because a one-time-supply usually satisfies the demand for 1 whole month or more. And because it’s better than ANY store-bought versions. Better than ANY ORGANIC store-bought versions. Better than ANY doesn’t-matter-how-EXPENSIVELY-FANCY store-bought versions. No packaged, canned or cubed will ever come close to the flavor of a meticulously brewed homemade broth. And because when one day on your way home and out of nowhere you realized that is fall because the leaves are browning, and you feel a bit lonely and sentimental, you could heat up a bowl of chicken broth from the freezer with just a bit of salt’n pepper, and you’ll feel infinitely snuggy, comforted and happy.
yields 10 ~ 12 cups of broth depending on the concentration
* What I’m showing here is a technique of how to brew a deep and dense broth, which means the ingredients part is very adaptable. I like to keep my broth simple and “indifferent” or versatile, if you will, to adapt to different types of cuisine that I would need it for. I don’t even salt it because I want a better control of the saltiness of the dish it goes into.
** Making broth would be much easier with a pressure cooker. But if you don’t have it, you can use a large stock pot as well. It would just take more time.
- 1 whole free-range chicken, or 2 pairs of chicken scaffolds (all the bones/necks/feet left after the chicken is deboned… your butcher can help you with this)
- 4 pieces of pork backbone (usually comes in 4″ x 4″ piece), or 2 whole pork shank/ham bones (cut in 3 sections), or 1 whole beef shank bone (cut into 3 sections)
- 1 pig’s trotter/foot (cut in 4 pieces)
- 1 piece of 4″ x 4″ (10cm x 10cm) Jinhua ham, or prosciutto ham (cheaper-grade is fine)
- Enough water to cover ***
- Aromatics, can be adaptable (I like to keep it simple but add other vegetables and spices if preferred. For example, making stock for the next post niu rou mien) *
- 2 large jumbo scallions, or leeks *UPDATE 2013/1/15: now I like to substitute scallion with 1 large onion, halved. I think the favor works out better this way.
- 5 ~ 7 slices of ginger
- 1 tbsp of black peppercorn
- 1 tsp of ground tumeric
2:00 ~ 2:30 pm: Place the chicken, pork bones and trotter in a large pot with a few pieces of scallions and gingers (not included from the ingredient list). Fill the pot with cold water and bring to a boil. Make sure every piece of bones and meat is submerged and blanch for 3 minutes (no more pink color or blood). Pour the entire pot out into the kitchen sink (facial alert!) with cold water running, and wash each bones and meats under water until all the scums and dirt are removed (discard the scallions and ginger).
2: 30 ~ 3:40 pm: Place ALL the ingredients in a large pressure cooker (or a large stock pot) **. Add enough water to cover everything by 2″ ~ 3″ (the water : solids ratio should be around 3 : 2 ***), then put the pressure cooker lid on and bring to a “hiss” on high heat (or according to your pressure cooker’s instruction), then turn the heat down to medium-low and pressure-cook for 1 hour (or 2 ~ 2:30 hours without pressure cooker).
3:50 ~ 5:50 pm (or longer without pressure cooker): Open the lid once the pressure is completely released. The chicken, pork bones and trotters should be so rendered down that they would just disintegrate when I press them with a tongs, but we are not done yet. BREAK every single piece of joints, muscles, bones and connected tissues with the tongs until everything (EVERYTHING!!) falls apart into shreds. Partially cover the pot by half, then turn the heat back on to medium. Keep it at a medium-to-high-boil (NOT SIMMER!), and add more water along the way to keep the water level to its original amount until the liquid becomes milky, dense and opaque (not see-through or clear). This will take approx another 2 hours.
5: 50 ~ 6:00 pm: Every solids in the broth should be an unrecognizable mush. Once you get to this point, stop adding more water and let the stock reduce down a little (depending on how concentrated you want it). I usually let it reduce down to 80%. Strain the broth through a sieve into another pot. Use a wooden spoon to really press down on the bones and meats to really extract EVERY DROP of broth, then discard the scraps. You’d be surprised how much more liquid you could get out of the scraps.
Let the broth cool down then divide it into freezer-proof containers and freeze until needed.