The stock is essential for flavorsome cooking.
One of the simplest ways to enhance the flavor of a dish is to replace the original water with stock, intensifying and bolstering the flavor making it richer and more delicious.
The stock is a cook’s secret weapon!
Many Chinese dishes use stock, especially Cantonese dishes. Regardless of what you are cooking, stock plays an important role in producing fragrant and seriously delicious Chinese food.
As the saying goes, ‘As the music to the singer, so the soup to the chef’. Even though the appearance of soup stock is plain, it plays an important role in both Chinese and Western cookery.
Today, I will introduce you to a classic brown stock, that is not only useful for all kinds of Western dishes but is also used in Chinese cookery. In our modern society, many foods are now produced commercially, and stock is no exception.
However, even the highest quality canned stock still does not come close to the rich and rustic flavor of good old homemade soup stock.
Here’s what you will need to make a rich beef stock:
- 600 g tenderloin or sirloin
- 1 kg beef leg bones, sawn in a few pieces to expose the marrow and cartilage
- 250 g celery, cut into sections
- 250 g carrot, cut into sections
- 2 onions, cut into 8 equal parts lengthwise
- 3 cloves of garlic with the skin left on, squashed flat with the side of a knife
- 8 black peppercorns
- 3 cloves (No more than 3, or your soup will taste two sweet!)
- 4 sprigs of thyme
- 1 bay leaf
This beef soup stock is very easy.
Firstly, place the beef, beef bones, onions, celery, carrots into a deep roasting pan. Preheat your oven to 220 degrees Celsius and bake for one hour.
The caramelization of the meat and vegetables that roasting produces is the secret to a tasty stock. It brings out the rich beefy flavors, and the sweetness of the vegetables.
Transfer the meat and vegetables to large soup pot. There will be a lot of good stuff left on the bottom of the roasting pan, and you need to collect this too! Pour 500 ml of water into the roasting pan and scrape off the goodness with a silicone scraper.
Don’t use too much water to do this step as it just dilutes the flavors. Pour this mixture into your soup pot.
Top up the soup pot with enough water to cover the meat and vegetables. Pop in the garlic, peppercorns and cloves, bring to the boil and turn to low.
Skim off the foam from the surface and add the thyme and bay leaf. Put the lid on, leaving a small gap, and simmer on low for four hours.
After cooking, strain the stock into a large bowl to remove all the solid pieces, leaving only the liquid. Do not discard the meat and vegetables (see my tips below). Cool to room temperature and refrigerate overnight.
Do not cover the container in the refrigerator as condensation will form and drip onto the fat
The next day the soup will look like this, with a milky layer of fat on the surface.
Use a small fork to remove the fat.
The stock contains rich collagen and will become jelly-like at low temperatures. Collagen improves the taste, making it soft and full-bodied. The vegetables and spices give the stock a delicious aftertaste.
Tips for Making Great Stock
- Place the ingredients for the stock in cold water. After a slow heating, the fat, amino acids and flavor are released into the water, producing a richer and stronger flavor. On the contrary, if you add the meat to boiling water it will hinder the release of the meat flavors.
- The stock liquid level will reduce while it is cooking and you will need to top it up. Use boiling water to do this, so you maintain the temperature of the water in the pot. Adding cold water will reduce the cooking temperature, affecting the flavor.
- Don’t throw away the ‘left over’ ingredients from the soup stock. The concentration of the soup stock has reached its maximum saturation, but there is still lots of flavor remaining in the ‘left overs’. You can use them again to make another pot of flavor-full stock.