Stock is the basis for all cooking, and broths are really my ‘thing’. I just think a meal isn’t complete without a good stock or broth to sip on. A masterstock is the classic liquor in Chinese cooking to braise meats. There have to be thousands of versions, but this version stems from my first year at Longrain and I’ve stuck with it ever since.
With most masterstock recipes, you put everything in and boil it. This one is different because we fry off the aromats until they’ve caramelised and released their flavours before we add liquid and boil it up: this adds real depth.
- 8 red Asian shallots, coarsely chopped
- 10 garlic cloves
- 30 star anise 100 ml (3½ fl oz) vegetable oil
- 700 ml (24 fl oz) Shaoxing wine
- 1 kg (2 lb 4 oz) yellow rock sugar
- 500 ml (17 fl oz/2 cups) light soy sauce
- 700 ml (24 fl oz) dark soy sauce
- 100 g (3½ oz) cassia bark
- 4 Chinese cardamom pods
- 2 tbsp fennel seeds
- 200 g (7 oz) ginger, thinly sliced
- 6 spring onions (scallions), roughly chopped
- 12 litres (420 fl oz/48 cups) water
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.
Using a mortar and pestle and working in batches, pound the shallots, garlic and 10 of the star anise until a rough paste forms. Heat the vegetable oil in a heavy-based stockpot over medium–high heat and fry the paste until golden and crispy, about 5 minutes. Deglaze with the Shaoxing wine and then add the remaining ingredients. Bring to the boil, then lower the temperature and simmer for about 2 hours, skimming off any scum that may collect on the surface. Strain the solids out of the stock.
• A good masterstock can be kept indefinitely. You can freeze it, or you can keep it in the back of the fridge and boil it once a week to kill off the nasties (don’t freak out: there are stories of 1000-year-old masterstocks out there). The masterstock we started when we opened Ms G’s in 2010 is still going strong and getting better all the time.
• Remember to keep replenishing your masterstock with more aromats as you go as the flavours accumulate the more it is used. The one thing you don’t want to do is throw out or taint the masterstock with the wrong flavours. Try out different meats, especially secondary cuts. By poaching meat in masterstock, it’s a meal made complete with just a bit of rice.
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