Going back to my catering school days, I found stock making boring and at the times, pointless. To me it tasted and looked like a watery soup with nothing interesting to bite your teeth into. Of course, with more experience and knowledge, I realised that stocks are one of the most important basics to have in a restaurant kitchen, let alone in a domestic kitchen.
I like how Escoffier viewed stock with this quote:

“Stock is everything in cooking, at least in French cooking. Without it, nothing can be done. If one’s stock is good, what remains of the work is easy; if, on the other hand, it is bad or merely mediocre, it is quite hopeless to expect anything approaching a satisfactory result”

Making a really good nurtured stock transforms everything it is introduced to into delicious and heart-warming meals. Think of hearty soups, light consommé, casseroles, risottos, sauces and gravies, just to name a few. If your stock is lacking flavour, so will your meals.

I have only ever seen freshly made stock sold at a few butchers. Fancy stores selling stock sell them at premium prices for very small quantities that would hardly fill a measuring cup. These liquid stocks are usually gluten-free, so if you only need a small amount and have the money, then I can see the logic in buying it, otherwise here are several recipes that I make constantly to either freeze or store in the fridge for later use:

For the traditional chicken and beef stock, plan ahead at least 24 hours to let the stock develop in flavour and colour by simmering gently in either a slow cooker/crock pot or a sturdy, large stock pot on the stove. The good news is that the preparation is easy and takes anything from 15 mins to 30 mins to prepare the bones, roughly chop the vegetables and sprinkle in a few peppercorns and fresh herbs. It isn’t unheard of to have stocks to roll on for weeks in some households or restaurant, especially when a superior stock is needed for consommé, noodle or dumpling soups. It’s entirely up to you how long you would like to slow cook your stock, but I recommend at least 24 hours.

Whatever you do, ONLY add salt (to taste) to the stock at the end of cooking.

You’ll notice that I add vinegar to my stocks. So, why do you add vinegar? This helps extract the minerals and gelatine from the bones and vegetables into the water. It doesn’t change the flavour at all, in fact It helps enrich the stock in a big way.

Well-made stocks can be served as bone broths, especially after 48 hours of slowly extracting all that goodness from bone, marrow and cartilage. This liquid gold has been hailed as one of the healthiest superfoods, helping many with aliments from bad digestion to flu symptoms. For this reason, chicken soup is often called “Penicillin soup” due to chicken also containing an amino acid called cysteine which thins any excess mucus in the lungs and helps in the healing process of many illnesses.

Fish Stocks

Fish Stocks are much faster to make, only requiring a 20-minute simmer. If you are lucky enough to get fresh fish heads & bones (avoid oily fish) and seafood shells, then you’re guaranteed a delicious fish stock to make fish soups, risottos, fish pies, etc. Simply add the same vegetables, herbs and peppercorn (no vinegar this time) to the pot of cold water and bones, bring to a simmer and skim any scum from the top. Strain and refrigerate or freeze.

Asian Stocks

Asian Stocks are either chicken, beef, pork or fish-based stocks that have the following vegetables and seasonings added to give that classic flavour:

  • ½ a garlic head, whole
  • 6cm ginger, unpeeled and cut in half
  • 10 spring onions, whole, green part only
  • 1 green chilli
  • 1 bird’s eye red chilli (optional, makes it extra spicy!)
  • 1 star anise, whole
  • 10 peppercorns
Cook the stock for at least 24 hours and serve as a basis to Wonton dumpling soups or Singapore Chicken Rice. Usually soya sauce (Tamari) is added before using in a recipe to give that saltiness to the stock.

As you can see, I am passionate about making stocks, for the many advantages it offers in the kitchen and to your health. There is something cosy about making a good stock and the wonderful aroma coming from my slow cooker or pot really relaxes me, especially on a cold or rainy day. So, I hope you enjoy making these stock recipes, if you have never cooked homemade stocks, you’ll be hooked…and healthier for sure!!