Stock: the simplest of culinary concoctions. The revered foundation of flavour that has provided both stage and volume to stove-top symphonies for hundreds of years. Pot-au-feu was a staple of French households for a long time before the concept was professionally popularised by the efforts of Escoffier. As is divulged in his famous Guide Culinaire (1903):
“Indeed, stock is everything in cooking. Without it, nothing can be done. If one’s stock is good, what remains of the work is easy.”
The late pioneer of gastronomy was not far from the truth as even today many kitchens begin the best of their braises, sauces and soups with a measure of stock.
Stock has an etymology that stems from an old Germanic term for ‘tree trunk’ with a flurry of definitions that generally pertain to the idea of basic ingredients and supplies at hand.
From the steeped simplicity of a veggie bouillon to the heavy concentration of collagenous meatiness that make up a beef jus-lie, the variations of this kitchen liquid sit within a spectrum techniques and purposes as broad as the world of cooking that survives them. Many stocks are tailored to the specific need’s of their creator or their edible creation.
One such example of a custom flavour potion comes from the kitchen of Dan Sherley, owner and head chef at Rookie Eatery. Sherley’s Master Stock recipe is a map to the land of hearty slurps with a sweet oriental delectability that has characterised some of his best-received duck and pork dishes, including the concurrently adorned buckwheat noodles.
The beauty of the master is the layered ingredients all jostle for flavour supremacy in the final profile, which in turn gives whatever you cook in it a kick of complexity.
Those kicks fray back and forth, as the master builds it’s empire of savour. That ongoing construction is the epitome of the master stock, as you are constantly adding to it’s delicious depths each time you poach a new piece of meat in it.
Having a Tupperware or two of master stock on hand will be of inconceivable value to even the most seasoned saucier. With the below recipe comes the advice that you poach your proteins in the resulting brew, chicken and pork are of particular interest to those that eat meat and tofu to those that refuse.
These delights that you submerge within your master stock are referred to as lou mei, so if you are cooking for someone be sure to amaze them with that nugget of knowledge.
Rookie Master Stock
- 2kg of chicken bones
- 3 cloves of garlic, sliced
- 1 large knobs of ginger, sliced
- 1 bunches of shallot ends
- 1 ½ sticks of cinnamon
- 1 ½ star anise
- ½ bottle light soy sauce
- ½ bottle Shao Xing Wine
- 150g rock sugar
- ½ bottle yellow soy beans
Put it all in a pot and cover with cold water.
Bring to a simmer for a minimum of 4 hours, skimming off any scum that rises to the top.
Strain out contents. Cool uncovered before before refrigerating.
Notes: You should never throw or replace your master stock, simply return what you have used to it’s home and bring all to a boil.
The above recipe should leave you with some extra ingredients, use these whenever you are using your master stock to build the flavour profile over time.