Learn a basic beef stock to complete your stock-making repertoire.
Chinese soup stocks are commonly made from pork bones or chicken carcass. But beef bones are also good for stock.
The Chinese usually parboil meats and bones used in soups. This practice is also used for making stocks. The main reason for parboiling bones is that bones may have blood in them. By parboiling the bones for a few minutes, especially with some ginger can remove any unpleasant flavour.
Browning, borrowed from the West, is another technique to achieve the same results. It also adds more flavour. It is no wonder that beef stock is also known as brown stock in the West. If you have an oven, you might want to try that.
Common aromatics paired with beef bones in stock making include cinnamon, ginger, peppercorns, coriander and more.
With other bone broths, parboiling remove most of the scum so by the time you start cooking the bones, the stock will have little scum to remove. With beef broth, parboiling only remove some of the scum. The broth will still contain scum and they need to remove them because leaving them in will affect the flavour. Most recipes instruct to scoop the scum up. I find it is easier to strain the stock when it is cooled instead.
Another tip is to add a splash of white wine vinegar to the bone broth helps the calcium in the bones to leach out quicker, making the soup more nutritious.
Beef broth is fatty. You can chill the soup to firm up the fats for easier removal. If you are on a ketogenic diet, then leave it in to up the fat count.
Some recipes I come across recommend using the pressure cooker to speed up the cooking process. That's a good idea if you have one at home.
The other school recommends going slow by using the slow cooker. Some recipes recommend cooking for up to 2 days. That's really long.
Both approaches are fine. It depends on your preference and whether you have the equipment.
I do recommend that if you intend to go slow, only add bones and spices. Nothing else. I can't face mushy vegetables.
Beef bones do take some time to cook down. The recipes here take mostly 4 hours.
It is usually a good idea to make a huge batch of soup stock at one go. Stock making takes up considerable time and the stock can be frozen for later use. Frozen stock can be stored up to 2 months.
Here's how you prepare stock for storing. When the stock has cooled, measure out the amount you need for your family needs and freeze them separately in ziplock bags. Freeze them lying flat in baking trays to make it easier to thaw later. You can also use a marker to put down the dates of "production".
Take one or two bags out, thaw by putting them in warm water. If you are not sure of the amount you may need each time, freeze smaller packs. It is easier to use 2 or 3 smaller packs than try to re-freeze un-used soup stock.
Someone asked me where they can buy beef bones. The local supermarkets in Singapore seldom carry beef bones. It would be more likely found at the local wet markets. Let me know if you know of any other places that sell them.
There has been an increase interest in bone broth. It seems that it has a myriad of health benefits like anti-inflammation, repair joints, helps leaky guts and arthritis.
I don't know if all of these are true. I hope so.
What I do know is, the Chinese kitchen is seldom with a soup stock, and that's usually a broth made from bones.