Basic stock

The very first item a Chinese cook would prepare when starting work in the kitchen each morning is a good stock which is used for cooking throughout the day when required, and is the basis for soup making as well. Any leftovers at the end of the day can be refrigerated and kept for 4-5 days; alternatively it can be frozen in small containers and an amount defrosted as required.

1 1/2-2lb (680-900g) chicken pieces
1-1 1/2 lb (450-680g) pork spareribs or bones
1 large piece fresh ginger root
3-4 spring onions
8 pints (4.5 litres) water
3-4 tbsp Chinese rice wine or dry sherry


Trim off excess fat from the chicken and pork, place them together with ginger root, unpeeled but cut into chunks, and spring onions in a large saucepan or pot, add the water and bring to the boil. Skim off the skum, then reduce the heat but keep it on the boil, uncovered, for at least 1½hours; by then you should end up with about 6pints (3.5 litres) good stock.

Strain the stock, add the wine and bring it back to the boil again. Simmer for 5 minutes or so, then it is ready to be used for cooking or as the basis of soup. Both the chicken and pork have given up their flavour to the stock during the long cooking; not even our cats would give the meat a second glance, therefore there is not much point keeping it.

Allow two-thirds cup (approx. 6 fluid oz or 175 ml) stock per person when making soup; therefore 1 pint (600ml) will serve four or more with the addition of other ingredients.

© Deh-Ta Hsiung and reproduced with his kind permission.