When it comes to stock-making, there are no real rules. (I would argue that there are no real rules to cooking in general, but I’ll hold off on that one for now). Depending on whether you’re making a Western style of stock or an Asian one, the ingredients will vary widely. Western stocks usually have a base of celery, onions, carrots, parsley and black peppercorns simmered with bones (or just the vegetables listed above for a vegetarian version). A Chinese stock has a more robust set of aromatics that go into it: ginger, garlic, spring onions, shiitake mushrooms and Sichuan peppercorns. The meat component is usually a whole chicken unlike the chicken carcass in Western stocks. In both cases, the stock is simmered low and slow for at least half hour, ideally 1-2 hours, to achieve maximum flavour intensity.
When I roast a full chicken, which is not often, I like to freeze the carcass to make stock with. Otherwise I like to use chicken wings. Wings are an inexpensive cut of meat, have bones in them (essential for flavour), and I also ask the butcher the leave the skin on (more fat = more flavour).
Hack the wings into smaller pieces before browning in a pot with the aromats. Add water to the pot and forget about it for a couple of hours. Once cooked, fish out the pieces of chicken from the pot and remove the meat from them with your fingers. Reserve the shredded meat for serving with your dish. When I go through the process of making a batch of stock, I always plan for a big enough one that ensures I’ll have enough to freeze. The stock can be used right away, refrigerated for up to a week or frozen for up to three months.
This is a basic chicken stock that can be used to flavour a whole range of dishes, like you would, with a stock cube. A splosh goes a long way in enhancing a stir-fry, side dish or soup. My favourite though: cooked soba noodles tossed with a little sesame oil and shiitake mushrooms. Shredded chicken pieces go in and the hot stock poured over. Season with a little chilli oil and soy sauce and slurp, you must!
750 - 1000 ml
- 500 grams chicken wings, skin on
- 5 spring onion stalks, cut into batons
- 5 cloves of garlic
- 3 inch piece of ginger
- 5-6 shiitake mushrooms
- 1 small cinnamon stick
- 2 star anise
- 2 tsp sichuan peppercorns (or black peppercorns)
- Salt, to taste
- Soak shiitake mushrooms in boiling water for 5 minutes until they plump up. Strain the soaking liquid into a bowl and reserve. Set mushrooms aside for later.
- Bruise ginger and garlic with the flat of your knife or in a pestle and mortar. Add to a heavy-bottomed pot or pressure cooker. Coarsely crush peppercorns and add to the pot.
- Cut each chicken wing into 3 or 4 pieces and add to the pot. Turn the heat on and fry the chicken with the ginger and garlic until chicken pieces are browned and starting to cook, about 7 - 10 minutes.
- Add cinnamon stick, star anise, spring onions, reserved mushroom liquid and salt. Pour 1 litre of water and cover and cook over a low heat for anywhere between ½ hour to 2 hours in a pot (longer the better) or ½ hour in a pressure cooker.
- Strain the stock into a bowl, pushing down with a spatula to get maximum flavour. Use right away, refrigerate for up to 1 week or freeze for up to 3 months.
- Once the chicken pieces are cool enough to handle, shred the meat with your fingers and use in your dish. Similarly, slice the shiitake mushrooms and add to your dish. If not using right away, freeze for later.
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