Rich, simple chicken stock for Thai food + How to use it (น้ำซุบไก่)

Let me be clear about what this isn’t: crystal clear chicken stock. This isn’t classic French cooking, alright? That’s not how we do things around here.

What this is: a very basic unsalted chicken stock which much more flavourful than any fresh stock you can buy. The catch, of course, is the time–at least 3 hours.

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You don’t really need to do anything during those hours–not even, really, be that attentive–but it still puts distance between you and your meal. This is way less hands-off than many classic stock recipes, but not everyone has over 3 hours of even partially free time to deal with stock-making plus its clean-up and storage.

If you love chicken soup, and you ever see a window of opportunity, then it’ll be worth it–the stock keeps well so I recommend making it in advance, freezing it in portions. Again, it’s up to you to decide if that investment would be good for you. It is for me, and I make this at least once every two weeks.

I was wondering what it was, exactly, that made my parents’ plain soup – gaeng jeud – so good. The secret isn’t really a secret at all: it’s simply long, slow boiling, refortifying old stock with new bones and fresh water. Also, chicken wings. I’d forgotten that until Deb posted her chicken stock recipe.

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All those bones and skin, with a little flesh for flavour: it gives a deeply savoury stock which makes your lips slightly sticky because of all the collagen. The gelatin is why the pan juices in restaurants are so great.  The stock will set completely in the fridge, melting again when heated. (It isn’t as rich and assertive as tonkotsu, though.)

If you don’t want it so gelatinous, swap out some wings for chicken carcasses. Keep at least some though–this will make a real difference to your soups and sauces, providing a deep savoury-sweet background and providing wonderful texture. Sauces and broths turn rich and glossy and coat noodles and rice silkily.

BASIC CHICKEN STOCK

Makes 900 ml – 1 litre stock. Chill for up to 3 days, after which you’ll need to boil it, or freeze for 3 months (perhaps in ice cube/cup portions, depending on what’s most useful for you).

These are guidelines only. If you like more or less of an aromatic, adjust to your taste as needed. This will be the backbone of your cooking so you must make it suit your palate. If there’s a sad carrot or two or some leek greens hanging around, I throw those in, too. Whatever’s thrifty and fitting can go in.

ingredients

Around 700g – 800g (~2 lbs) chicken wings (or chicken carcass, or mix of pork bones and chicken)
700 ml – 800 ml (3 – 3 1/3 cups) cold water
1 large onion, roughly chopped
2 celery sticks plus a small handful of the leaves, roughly chopped
1 tablespoon whole peppercorns, white or black, lightly cracked

If you’re sure you’ll be using it in a Thai recipe (or any other recipe with compatible flavours), add:
Fistful of coriander stems only, roughly torn, or 2 – 3 coriander roots, cleaned and roughly chopped
If you have it, 1/3 of a mooli, sliced, would be ideal

instructions

Put all the ingredients in a large stock pot. The water will barely cover anything, but leave it be–all the ingredients will release their own liquid and relax into the stock with the long cooking. Cover and set on a medium heat, bringing it to a gentle simmer. This will take about 10 – 15 minutes.

Just when you see some steam and hear everything puttering, turn the heat right down. Simmer for 3 – 5 hours. You may need to top up with a little water if simmering for more than 3 hours.

For the last hour  or two of cooking, I like to gently mash the chicken wings and vegetables into the liquid.

Either way, strain into a large jug or tub, pressing on the solids very, very well to extract every bit of liquid. Use right away or cool swiftly and store. I never skim the stock (the fat layer helps it keep) but you can do so if you wish.

 

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SUGGESTIONS FOR YOUR CHICKEN STOCK

 

One-bowl meals

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Meals with rice

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Other

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