Posts Tagged ‘Soup

30
Apr
13

Browned Chicken Broth

Browned Chicken Broth

Browned Chicken Broth

I believe that it’s important for everyone to know where their food comes from.  It’s one of the things I value, especially when we talk about how food gets from vendor/farmer/producer to kitchen to table.  I’ve learned that if I know where things come from, the impact of their production on the environment, and their impact on our bodies, then I have a deeper understanding, appreciation, and respect for the farmers, the factory workers, the vendors, and the animal.  Most of my education around vegetables and seafood came at a much older age when I graduated college and entered my “responsible” age.  It wasn’t really until the push for organic and local fare that I started to educate myself around food culture, food politics, and general healthy living.  Meat, however, was something that I learned about at a young age.  Thanks to a childhood memory from a trip to Taiwan, I didn’t need to be taught about meat or where it came from …

 

The main form of short distance transportation in Taiwan is done via scooter – slow speed vespas with the shell of motorcycles.  Because of their slow speed, you commonly see parents using them to take their children to school, the local store, or the farmers market down the street.  And since I saw a bunch of kids riding around on them, I too wanted to do that.  It was fun, exhilarating, and free.  Plus, I felt like I was speeding down the country roads of Taiwan, until I saw the jogger next to me run by the scooter that my Aunt and I were riding.  I didn’t care though; it was fun to be able to ride around on a scooter and I found any excuse to get on the back of one of those machines.

 

 

I like to keep dead animals in my freezer...

I like to keep dead animals in my freezer…

One year, my Aunt asked me if I wanted to go with her to run some errands for dinner.  I knew she was going to take the scooter, so I jumped at the chance.  We went to the farmers market and picked up some vegetables from various stands and after a few stops, ended at a vendor who had a bunch of chickens in cages.  “Wait, we are buying a new animal for our farm?  A pet!? awesome!”. I was so excited to see all the chickens; although they were not the baby chicks that I would have melted for, these chickens were still cute in their own way.  In my limited Taiwanese, I was able to understand that she wanted me to pick out a chicken; I assumed that she wanted me to choose our new pet.

 

I inspected each cage carefully.  There were three to four chickens in each cage and I wanted to make sure that

each one had its chance to show off its greatness.  I wanted to make sure I made the right choice so that on future visits to Taiwan, the chicken I selected would be waiting to greet me at the door upon my arrival to the farm. Finally, I picked out the chicken I wanted, pointed to it and said, “那個.”  She leaned over to the man who owned the shop and told him which one I had chosen and with a quick thrust, his hands grabbed my chicken by its legs and pulled it out of the cage.  I had a feeling that something got lost in translation, especially when I saw him pull a sharp blade out of his pocket I knew that I the fate I had pictured for little “Wilmur” was no longer the happy ending I had planned.  Within minutes the chicken had its neck slit and was thrown into a large barrel to quickly go to “sleep.”  I was in shock.

 

Once the chicken stopped moving in the tub, I thought the nightmare was finally over.  But I was wrong.  The vendor then reached in and grabbed the chicken and put it in a tub that I can only describe as a giant washing machine with an exposed window on the top.  In went the chicken , the machine was turned on and around went the chicken.  Every cycle of the tumbler I would see the chicken through the opening and with each turn there seemed to be less feathers on the body.  Six turns later, the chicken was naked, and ready for the final stage.  I think my Aunt finally realized what was going on, it was probably obvious; my mouth was wide open, no more color in my face.  She distracted me (although too late) as the vendor cleaned the chicken and packed it up.  She then put me on the back of her scooter and we rode back to the house and that night I ate “Wilmer”.

 

Events like this have taught me a lot of things.  I learned that day that “Scott, let’s get a chicken” has many meanings.  I also learned too have a better appreciation for animals now. It has even taught me to respect the animals that we eat and all of the parts of the animal.  It has taught me to respect the work that butchers and farmers go through.  It has also taught me that I need to learn Taiwanese better.

 

~stuff

the bones of 1 chicken

1 tsp thyme, dried

2 tbs canola oil

1 tsp oregano, dried

2 tsp salt

1 tsp black pepper, ground

1 tsp rosemary, dried

1 tsp thyme, dried

1 head of garlic, split

2 medium carrots, rough chopped

3 celery stalks, rough chopped

1 medium onion, rough chopped

4 whole shitake, dried

3 qt water

salt and pepper to taste

 

~steps

preheat oven to 375°f

toss bones with thyme, oil, oregano, salt, pepper, garlic, and rosemary until fully covered

roast bones on baking sheet until fully browned, about 30 minutes

transfer all contents into a large stock pot and cover bones with water, about 3 qts

add carrots, celery, onion, and dried shitake and turn the stove on low heat

cook broth for at least four hours, until the flavor comes out into the broth

season to taste

**note:  for clear broth, skim off the top of the broth and run through cheese cloth when completely cooled

 

-makes about 4 cups-

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06
Jan
13

Day 4: Pork and Daikon Soup with Soy Paste Dipping Sauce

Pork Broth Soup with Daikon.

Pork Broth Soup with Daikon.

As a kid, I’ve always been in to intense flavors.  One of the many great things about growing up in a first generation family in Southern California is the access to different flavors, cuisines, and ingredients.  When visiting Westminster, I would love the tart fishy flavors of Nuoc Cham, or when eating dim sum in Roland Heights, the bitter, earthy quality of gizzards, liver, and kidney would stick in my mind for the rest of the day.  So, naturally when I first tasted Taiwanese Soy Paste, I would be drawn to the sweet and salty quality of the sauce.

At home, there was one dish that we would use this sauce for dipping.  It was a soup that was made with the neck bones of pork and with the addition of bitter melon, daikon, or winter melon.  It was an easy soup to prepare and the flavor was clean and light and warmed the body.  The broth is magical because it is only a few ingredients and takes an hour to cook, but tastes like a complex broth that’s been boiling for a whole day.  The best part of the soup is always the pork bones.  It takes a little effort, but the neck bones have some meat that has to be dug out.  Once you get to it, it’s tender and earthy flavor will make it all worth the work.

I, of course, would always fish for the largest piece at the beginning of the meal so no one claim rights to it.  I’d set it aside in my soup bowl while I continued to eat my rice, other braised meats, fish, vegetables; whatever was required for my parents to be satisfied that I had eaten a balanced meal.  Then, when it was time to enjoy the pork, I would spoon some soup over the meat to reheat it and then go grab a small dish of soy paste.

My mom would always watch how much I poured into my dipping dish, because I always seemed to “accidentally” pour twice the amount that a person should consume.  Once I got it back to the table, with sheer excitement, I would start picking pieces of pork off the neck bones and cover them in this sweet salty sauce.  These bones have some nooks and crannies to them, but I discovered what the chimps had known for so long; that a long stick is a great tool.  I took my one chopstick and began picking at the crevices to get out all the tender meat.  Sometimes, if I planned it right, I would run out of the sauce and have to go back for seconds.  This is how I was able to cheat my Mom’s system.

I remember one time, when I was young; I was so excited to be able to get more of the soy paste that I wasn’t really in the right state of mind.  It’s like when I was scooping mayonnaise into my mouth or drinking coleslaw juice.  I had a moment of weakness.  I noticed that some of the paste was dribbling down the side, I could have just wiped it with a napkin, but that would be wasteful.  What if I use a piece of my pork?  Wait, it’s too far.  I know! I’ll lick it.  So I slowly moved the bottle to my mouth, and with a quick lick, it was clean.  (I realize that the last two options make me sound unsanitary.  I was)

“Did you just put your mouth to the bottle?”   Damn, my brother caught me.

“No.  That’s gross!”  I stomped back to the dinner table, upset that my brother thought I would do something so disrespectful and offensive.  But, I did.  And it was worth it.  I got more of the soy paste.

Later that night, Mom threw away the bottle of soy paste.

Taiwanese “Soy Paste” or “Sweet Soy Sauce” is a thicker more viscous soy sauce that contains sugar, rice and potato starch in addition to the soy sauce. Because it’s a blend, it has much less sodium than regular soy sauce, but not that much more. The brand that I like to use is “Kimlan”. You can commonly use it in stir fries, but when going through the streets of Taiwan, you will more likely see it mixed with cilantro and crushed peanuts and used as a dipping sauce for various dishes.  It’s really good, in that combination, over Taiwanese Tamales.

Some notes on the soup.  In order to get a really clear broth, my mom would do a quick initial boil of the bones to release all the protein and scum and then re-boil it with the vegetables.  If you don’t mind swampy broth, you can skip that step.

~stuff

2 lb pork neck bones

1 large daikon, peeled and sliced into 1 inch pieces

4 cups of water

salt to taste

cilantro, optional

~step

for clear broth (skip the next two steps if you don’t mind a clear broth)

rinse bones and place in a large pot and cover with cold water and turn on high heat

drain water once it has come to a boil

add all 4 cups of water, until covering the bones, in a large pot and boil on high heat

simmer the stock for 45 minutes after the water comes to a boil

add the daikon and simmer until fork tender, about 15 minutes

season the broth with salt and thrown in some cilantro for the last five minutes of cooking.

-serves 6-

 




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