Recipe – Lock, Stock & the foundations of Cooking

I have always enjoyed those kitchen tasks into which one can immerse themselves fully, there’s a certain zen like quality to making a good stock, a profound satisfaction in knowing that your stock will be the base for a range of dishes prepared in the kitchen. A poor stock will hobble the best kitchen and that is one of the reason chefs spend so many years studying the basics of cooking.

While i am not traditionally religious ,when i consider stocks , i am reminded of a passage i learnt at school “everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on rocks and the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat the house , but it did not fall” Matthew 7:24-27.

I judge that regardless of religion or spiritual practices there are many similar verses in the world’s religions from shinto to zoroastrianism. If your base isn’t solid you simply can’t build on it confidently.

i will update this post once i have received some beef bones to make a beef stock, in the interium i will share my recipes for chicken master stock and vegetable stock

Master Chicken Stock

This is is a great recipe to use for your base for cooking congee, Tom yum , chicken and red date soup or a simple ramen base for noodles.I make mine using a whole chicken so that we can remove the skin and shred the chicken for a quick lunch snack of chicken mayonnaise.

1 whole chicken.
200 gm chicken offcuts (wings , feet etc)
4 pc garlic clove, peeled and chop
3-4 pc shallots peeled, rough chop
4pc spring onions chopped
5cm ginger , peeled and chop
3 liters water
Add all ingredients to a stock pot and bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer and cook for three hours.

If you want a richer chicken flavor I’m in favor of adding 2 tablespoons of chicken stock concentrate ie: Maggi or Knorr, while I’m not a fan of their stocks a tablespoon or two of their concentrate helps bring out the natural umami of your own stock.

Strain the stock through some muslin cloth and chill, reserve and keep in airtight container in the fridge (or freezer ) as a base for a variety of recipes.

Remove the chicken skin and shred the meat , add some Japanese mayonnaise , salt , white pepper and your favorite herbs to make a scrumptious chicken mayo for toasted sandwiches (I’m partial to a little tarragon, chervil and minced shallots as my additions)

Vegetable Stock

Another great basic stock to add to your immune boosting repertoire is fresh vegetable stock , it’s great as a base for soups , noodles or for adding extra flavor when cooking grains ie. Quinoa, couscous , freekeh, barley etc.

1.5 liters water
600gm carrots peeled, rough chop
400gm white onion peeled, rough chop
200 celery, rough chop
200gm leeks, rough chop
100gm mushrooms (button, shiitake etc, if using dry mushrooms always rehydrate first)
100gm tomato seeded and rough chop(remove seeds or it can make the stock bitter)
3pc garlic clove peeled , rough chop
3 gm coriander seeds
1 bay leaf
1pc star anise
2gm black peppercorns
20gm parsley

Add all the ingredients to the stock pot, bring to boil and reduce heat to a simmer. Cool for 1 hour to 1.5 hour but no longer as the delicate flavor of the vegetables tends to evaporate after too long.

Set up a strainer over a large pot and using a ladle spoon strain the stock thru some coffee filters or cloth .Cool down the stock and store in the refrigerator or keep in the freezer.

Note: Whenever I’ve got some spare fennel bulbs lying around I also love to add that for a nice anise zing to the stock.

This is another great way to clear vegetables in the fridge or pantry but I avoid using broccoli, cauliflower, kale and cabbage as it may ruin the stock by imparting sulphureous or bitter flavour. Avoid vegetables such as potatoes or pumpkin they break down too easily, creating a cloudy stock

Hang on to those left over veggies , they are a great addition to blend into a tomato sauce or for a variety of soups.


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