Gorgeous Broth

April 11, 2017

Here’s another piece from the amazing Chinese food encyclopedia I wrote about a few days ago.

This is one of my favorite Chinese preparations: simple greens cooked in broth. But as you’ll see, the simplicity of this dish belies an artful process: slow and patient stock making that results in a crystal clear broth bursting with deep, deep flavor. (I have to admit that the recipe reminds me a bit of the famous seventeenth century French chef Francois Vatel, who once offered to reduce a herd of cattle to a thimble of broth.)

But to really flex your stock making might, most of us require a  few more specifics.

To find them I consulted Fuchsia Dunlop. She always delivers.

In Land of Plenty, her classic English-language Sichuan cookbook, she writes:

 Sichuanese cooks clarify their stocks by adding pastes made from raw meat, which rise to the surface, collecting the scum. The classic method is first to use a “red paste” made from minced pork mixed with an approximately equal quantity of water, and then a “white paste” made from chicken breasts, again pummeled to a paste and mixed with an approximately equal quantity of water. The cooked pork paste is discarded, but the cooked chicken breast mixture can be tied up with cheesecloth and left in the clarified stock for another hour, at 200 degrees fahrenheit, to improve and clarify the liquid and its flavor. Straining the cooked stock through cheesecloth, however, gives a perfectly respectable result and is the method I use at home. 

Here’s her recipe for “Banquet Stock,”

And here’s the Chinese original from the Chinese Encyclopedia.  You’ll be happy to know it’s no more specific than the English translation.

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