This Asian master stock is a key ingredient in my kitchen. Master stocks are essential for the red-braised dishes of China. The soy sauce gives a rich reddish-brown colour to any meat or poultry, while the Chinese wine, rock sugar and spices impart a unique flavour. The master stock can be used over and over again and it will grow better and richer over time. However it is important to follow a few essential rules with this recipe to prevent harmful bacteria growing. Only ever use a master stock to cook one type of meat – i.e. only chicken, or duck or pork. It is not a multi-purpose stock. After each use, bring the stock back to the boil, and then skim it and strain through a fine sieve into a clean, sealable container. Allow it to cool completely before refrigerating or freezing.






Skill level

Average: 2.2 (27 votes)


  • 3 litres (6 pints) water
  • 250 ml (9 fl oz) light soy sauce
  • 500 ml (16 fl oz) Shao Xing wine (Chinese cooking wine)
  • 200 g (7 oz) yellow rock sugar
  • 40 g (1½ oz) fresh ginger
  • 5 garlic cloves
  • 3 cardamom pods
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 10 g (2 tsp) dried mandarin peel

Spices for bag

  • 4 whole cloves
  • 4 star anise
  • 1 tsp sichuan pepper
  • 1 tsp licorice root
  • 1 tsp dried chilli
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp fennel seeds

Cook's notes

Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.


Cooling time 1 hour

You will need to begin this recipe 1 day ahead.

Place all of the spices into a piece of muslin cloth and tie into a bag. Put the spice bag along with all of the other ingredients in a large stockpot and bring to the boil. Simmer gently for 10–15 minutes to allow the spices to infuse. Allow the stock to cool completely before pouring into a clean container. Leave the aromatics in the stock overnight to intensify the flavours. Refrigerate or freeze until needed.

Recipe from Contemporary Australian Food by Teage Ezard with photographs by Ned Meldrum. Published by Hardie Grant Books.