I love reading about food trends, and if there’s one that is definitely going to be big in 2015, it’s broth. Everyone from Joy The Baker to The New York Times to The Guardian have called it, and broth is becoming a trendy alternative pick-me-up to coffee.
I began to read voraciously about broth after reading about Hemsley +Hemsley in Goop and The Coveteur. I’ve been following the Hemsley sisters’ work obsessively online for the past month or so, and since broth forms the basis of many of their recipes, I figured I’d give it a try.
I’ll admit, I’m the queen of the stock cube. Whether it’s soup or pasta sauce, I reach for stock cubes and throw them in- they are convenient and give a quick taste-boost. It’s not that I haven’t made my own stock before- I have, but stock cubes are just more convenient. And who’s going to save fish, chicken and mutton bones anyway?
When I buy fish, I almost always get it filleted so that I can use it for curries, pan-frying or preparing en papillote. Chicken is either boneless, drumsticks or a curry-cut; I rarely roast one whole. Boneless strips are stir-fried. Drumsticks are turned into a Kerala-style chicken fry; and a curry-cut becomes an easy one-pot chicken curry to go with rice or rotis. So chicken bones are just discarded. Mutton too, is made into a curry and we end up chucking the bones after we finish our meal.
Anyhow. After reading so much about home-made stock or broth, I had to give it a try. I made a bean-and-kale soup the other day, and instead of using a stock cube, I made my own stock with some aromats (onions, carrots, celery, peppercorns, garlic, ginger,) and a handful of bony mutton pieces. Not bones, but small bony pieces. I put everything into a ceramic dutch oven, poured some cold water over it and allowed it to simmer for 2 hours. I then strained the liquid and went on preparing the rest of the soup, adding tomato puree, beans, vegetables, herbs and kale.
A stock cube is definitely easier, and the flavour is stronger- and saltier. The homemade stock, however, had a much more well-rounded flavour, though subtler.
For broth as a meal, I thought I’d take small steps, and zeroed in on a simple recipe from It’s All Good. Ginger-scallion broth with soba noodles.
I replaced the soba noodles with some quick-cooking brown rice noodles, and I prepared it without the seaweed. Still really, really good. The slow simmer really brings out the flavour and kick of the ginger, and it makes for a light, soothing and flavourful meal-in-a-bowl. I topped the noodle broth with stir fried vegetables, but chicken, seafood, meat or tofu would work just as well.
BROWN RICE NOODLES WITH GINGER SCALLION BROTH (Adapted from It’s All Good)
- 2 thumb-sized pieces of ginger, crushed
- 8-10 green peppercorns (optional)
- 8 scallions, roughly chopped
- 2 more scallions, sliced thinly, to serve
- A handful of mint and coriander leaves
- 1 1/2 tablespoons soy sauce
- 250 grams brown rice vermicelli (You could also use regular white vermicelli. Use Thai vermicelli, not the semia that is used for kheer and sweets- that gets too sticky.)
- Combine the ginger, scallions and soy sauce with 3 cups of cold water and bring to a boil. Once the liquid boils, lower the heat and simmer for 10 more minutes. Add some mint leaves and cilantro, cover with a lid and allow the broth to rest for 5-7 minutes. Strain the liquid and set aside, covered.
- Meanwhile, cook the brown rice vermicelli according to package instructions, drain and set aside. Divide the noodles evenly between 4 bowls, ladle the broth over it, and top with the thinly sliced scallions. Add some stir-fried veggies/chicken/meat/tofu to make it a full meal!