There are some old tales from down Chinatown way, where Chef’s argue about the most expensive price ever paid for a pot of this liquid gold. Arguments about stocks passed down through generations of restaurants ranging anywhere from the hundreds, to $35,000 for a pot filled with the flavours and aromas of a century. It’s a smell you might recall if ever you wander by an Asian soup kitchen and see pots filled with simmering broths or indeed hawker market stalls with folks queuing for a bowl of this restorative broth.
Schezuan peppercorns, Jasmine Tea, garlic, five spice powder, brown sugar, chillies, shitake mushrooms, garlic & more… Sometimes when I was little, mum used to make a slow braised chicken with medicinal ginseng, I’m certain that had some amazing healthful qualities to it but boy oh boy, did it taste good!
This is the sort of dish which keeps on giving. Fact: Century old practices dictate that the broth is reused time and time again, imparting a depth to the overall flavour and appearance. I’m not one to keep gallons of stock on a low simmer for the next five years. Though I can add, that freezing a good portion of this in easy to use ice cubes or zip lock freezer bags, is more fitting for the modern day. However, if you would like to follow the old masters methods in reusing the stock, see here on the wikki
As with all things substitute the ingredients which you dislike, with the items you’d prefer.
Time: 45 mins, plus cooking time for your choice of protein.
Water to cover your choice of protein,
A few Garlic cloves,
Couple of knobs of ginger
A few shallot stems or a medium onion
Star anise buds x 2
1/2 cup of Soy sauce
1/2 cup of Wine (shaoxing is preferable,)
A few small lumps of Rock sugar or (use3 tbsp of brown sugar in place of rock sugar if needed,)
Handful dried shitake or other chinese mushrooms,
A few Coriander stalks
1 tbsp Five spice powder
Schezuan peppercorns x 5
Dried chillies (a few)
A heaped tablespoon of Chinese tea, I’m using jasmine.
Protein of your choice, Chicken or Duck, Pork Belly or Beef Chuck (with marbling,) would be ideal. Ideally something which benefits from poaching or braising.
Garnish: (optional) Use some spring onion cut on the diagonal, along with some asian fried crispy shallots, chilli oil & coriander,
You’ll also need a large pot, (5L is ideal or 3L,) a ladle and some tongs.
Combine all the dry ingredients, coriander stems & shallots into the pot.
Cover with cold water halfway up the pot and add the soy sauce & wine and any remaining ingredients, (except for the protein.)
Bring to a rapid boil and prepare your condiments and sides.
After half an hour, the broth should be smelling fragrant.
Reduce the stock to a slow simmer and gently lower in the whole chicken (duck or your choice of protein)
Leave the pot uncovered and poach meat for 45mins-for chicken or duck and up to 1 & 1/2 hours for the braised pork if using.
Ladle the stock gently over the meat (so to <em>hopefully</em> not break up the skin, too much.)
Allow the meat to cool in the poaching liquid afterwards, ideally you would cool to room temperature before serving to impart more flavour and colour into the meat.
This also allows that glossy skin to form on the skin.
To re-use: After use, strain the stock and discard any debris.
Freeze the stock in ice cube trays for easy to use portions & add to other meals to impart flavour (following the old masters methods in reusing the stock,)
Tossing the cubes into a hot stir fry would also work for smaller portions too.