Chinese Pork Stock – 猪肉汤汁, or Pork Noodle Broth
A stock made with raw pork bones, skin, and meat is sometimes called a ‘White Stock’, or even a ‘Milk Stock’, in Chinese cookery, because, unlike a thin, clear Chicken Stock, for example, it is quite opaque and somewhat ‘milky’ in appearance.
Chinese Pork Stock of this sort doesn’t have quite the same elegance those used in refined soups, or banquet dishes, but it shines in simpler dishes based on Pork Noodle Broth, such as Ramen bowls, or as the ‘soup’ part of the filling in the celebrated 小籠包, or Shanghai-style Soup Dumplings.
Choosing the Pork for a Chinese Pork Stock (猪肉汤汁)
For making a good Basic Pork Stock (especially if the end result is for a rich Ramen Broth), you want to choose pork on the bone, ideally with lots of cartilage and skin. The meat adds the majority of the flavor, but it is the bones, skin, and cartilage … you know, the stuff that often gets chucked away… that yield the rich collagen that gives stocks and broths the thick, gelatinous, mouthfeel that makes for a hearty soup, or stew.
The ribs typically have lots of cartilage, especially the cheaper cuts usually sold as ‘riblets’, but the ‘trotters’, or the ‘hocks’ (sometimes known as the ‘knuckles’) are the best. Always purchase these with a good amount of thick skin still attached.
The ribs and sections of hocks shown above were blanched in boiling water before the picture was taken. This is less of a critical step than it is for making stocks you wish to be thin and clear, but it does remove the bloody, raw taste of the meat that is particularly disliked by the Chinese and, in my experience, it generally makes for a better finished product. If you wish to do so, you can follow the basic technique also used for making a Basic Chinese Cooking Stock.
How to Make 猪肉汤汁 for Pork Noodle Broth
To make the stock, you need to completely cover the ingredients with cold water. Generally, somewhere in the neighborhood of 1 to 1 ½ liters per kilogram of meat is a good ratio.
Usually when making clear stocks, you generally want to avoid allowing the pot to boil and, instead, keep things at no more than a very gentle simmer. For this variety, however, a much more vigorous approach is just fine and you can let things bubble away at a lively level for a good four hours or so until the meat completely falls from the bone. The liquid will concentrate until it is roughly only a third to half the original volume and, as you can see, will take on the thick, milky appearance you often see in a good, rich Ramen Broth.
Once the stock has cooled somewhat, strain it to remove the solids. Going further and filtering it through cheesecloth or the like may be a bit of an over-refinement but I usually take the trouble myself.
Afterwards, you can refrigerate the stock for up to 4 or 5 days, or else pop it into the freezer. In the latter case, I sometimes make ‘stock-cubes’ using ¼ cup-size pudding molds so as to have handy size quantities for various uses.
Using a Chinese Pork Stock, or猪肉汤汁
Here is a cup of the finished product that I refrigerated in a small plastic container. Both the skin and the bones have leached out so much protein that it completely gels the stock when cool.
Now, the most common use for a 猪肉汤汁 like this is probably for Pork Noodle Broth based dishes, especially Ramen Noodle Bowls ramped up with all sorts of other ingredients. The thick, gelatinous goodness of the stock will always give dishes like these a superior richness that is impossible with commercial powdered stocks, or noodle-flavoring packets.
The use is not limited to noodle dishes, of course… A rich, hearty pork stock can shine in all sorts of soups, stews, or even sauces, and so forth, but there is one application, not well known, where it is indispensable:
Does the above picture immediately make you think 小籠包 … or maybe Xiaolongbao?
If so, you probably already know the Shanghai Soup Dumpling Secret!
Your Recipe Card:
Chinese Pork Stock – 猪肉汤汁
- 1 Kg Pork Ribs;
- 1 Kg. Pork Hocks;
- 1 medium Onion;
- 4 – 6 Cloves Garlic;
- 3 -4 thick slices of Ginger;
- 1 tbsp. Sugar;
- 1 tsp. Salt;
- 1 tbsp. White Peppercorns.
- Cut the pork into smallish pieces and blanche, if desired.
- Add all the ingredients to a large pot and pour over 2 to 3 liters of cold water, ensuring that the meat is well covered.
- Bring the water to a boil, skim away any scum from the top, and then reduce the heat so as to keep the pot at a moderately vigorous simmer.
- Continue to cook down the stock until the meat is falling from the bone and the liquid has reduce by one-half to two-thirds its original volume.
- Strain the stock to remove the solids and, if desired, strain a second time through cheesecloth for a finer result.
- Refrigerate, or freeze for later use, when cooled.