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Nuoc Cham – Dipping Fish Sauce

Introduction:

Lime is the hardest, sharpest and most acidic member of the citrus family. Soy sauce is that rich, savoury, salty seasoning. And sugar is the pure sensation, crystallised pleasure which all people seem to have an innate desire for. The amalgamation of these three taste sensations, which tickles four of the five known receptor types in our mouths (sweet, sour, salt and umami), is the base for the classic Vietnamese dipping sauce and dressing nước chấm. In addition, a blast of chilli and hint of garlic adds heat and flavour to an already outstanding combination. The real secret, however, is to blend such ingredients in the most accurate of proportions, the accuracy of which is determined by your palette…

This version is what sends my palette in to sensory overdrive; it sucks me up in to a whirlwind of oral pleasure, dunks me in to a lagoon of citrus delight and then transports me to a corner of Hanoi whilst punching me with savoury heat, satisfying saltiness and garlicky tartness. Enjoy.

 

Serves: Used as a dip or a dressing for 4 people.   |   Preparation:  5 minutes   |   Cooking: 30 minutes resting

 

Ingredients:

30ml Fish sauce | Ensure that this is real fish sauce and not synthesised. Check the label on the bottle. If it has ‘flavours’ then it is synthesised.
20ml Lime juice | Yield from one medium lime.
25ml Rice wine vinegar |
1 clove Garlic | Crushed.
½ with seeds Bird’s eye chilli | This can be varied depending on your heat desire. ½ bird’s eye chilli adds a lovely warming tingle.
35g White caster sugar |

 

 

How To:

Add the fish sauce, lime juice, rice wine vinegar, garlic, chilli and sugar to a non-reactive* bowl. Stir until all the sugar has dissolved. Leave to stand for at least half an hour before using; this lets the ingredients become well acquainted.

*A non-reactive bowl is one such as ceramic, glass or stainless steel. Reactive bowls include those made from aluminium, copper and cast iron. When using acidic ingredients, in this case vinegar and lime, the acid in these ingredients can react with untreated surfaces (reactive bowls) and dissolve some of the metal causing the food to take on a metallic taste.

 

Notes:

–        This will keep in the fridge for about 5 days if covered.

–        For a bigger batch just increase the proportions relative to each other. I tend to make less but more often as the freshness of the lime can deteriorate over time.

 

Jerusalem Artichoke Purée with Truffle Oil

Introduction:

Ever come across ‘experts’ gesticulating over their food to the degree that you want them just to enjoy eating it rather than go through what sometimes can be seen as some elaborate mating ritual…mmm, yes, I can detect a mmm, subtle hint of toasted melon with a mmm, yes underlying palate of macerated yak droppings, nicely finished with a yes…mmm, let me cogitate further…mmm, yes a definite nuance of tea-smoked elderflower. Not bad for a piece of toast, hey?

I have, in the past, often struggled to take seriously those that described their food as ‘earthy’. I mean who did their research? Some poor student chef gulping down handfuls of sodden earth under the careful direction of their mentor,

Does it remind you of anything?

The student is thinking ‘yes, death’ but says

yes chef, truffle, mushroom, carrots…so earthy.

In essence I jest. I now, in my infinite wisdom (ahem), completely understand that food is very subjective and in particular in how we try to describe taste, flavour, texture and smell. So, for example, I can now really detect the similarities between the ‘smell’ of the earth and the term ‘earthy’ that describes the ‘flavour’ of many root vegetables, tubers and fungi that originate from within the earth; or very close to it.

Jerusalem artichokes exude that ‘earthiness’ and when looking at food pairing you cannot go wrong with looking at similar ‘earthy’ food types. I have recently discovered the complete and utter affinity that the ‘earthiness’ of truffle (in this case as truffle oil) has with Jerusalem artichoke.

The recipe below is for a Jerusalem artichoke purée which is a wonderfully creamy and citrusy concoction. On its own it can complement many meat dishes, and although the truffle oil is optional, if you have any then please indulge as it takes the purée to another level. If you are very well positioned in life then shavings of black truffle would be Utopian.

For a great insight in to the origins and characteristics of the humble Jerusalem artichoke (or sunchoke) then check out the post ‘Jerusalem Artichoke aka Sunchokes’ on Duck and Roses.

 

Serves: A few plus some for freezing   |   Preparation:  30 minutes   |   Cooking: 45-60  minutes

 

Ingredients:

1.5kg Jerusalem artichokes (sunchokes) | Unpeeled. Ensure they have been scrubbed clean in cold water if you have just picked them.
300ml Grapeseed oil | You can use groundnut oil or any oil that has a neutral flavour.
50g Butter | I use Lescure French butter, but any good butter is great.
From 5 medium lemons Lemon juice | Squeezed and pip-free.
To season Sea salt | According to taste – You can always adjust at the end.
500ml  Water |
40ml Single cream | Milk fat content of about 35%.
10ml White or black truffle oil |

 

 

How To:

Ensure that your artichokes are completely dirt free as we are cooking these with their skins on. Cut the artichokes into small pieces and boil in hot water for 1 minute and then drain (just to remove any lingering dirt).

Put the oil in a heavy based pan and warm on a low heat. Add the artichokes, butter, lemon juice, salt, and water, and stir. Cover the pan with a lid and gently cook the artichokes for about 45 minutes to an hour, until very soft.  Once soft, stir in the cream. Process the artichoke mix in a food processor until very smooth. Now push the purée through a fine sieve – this will separate out all of the skin, and result in a silky smooth purée. Now add the truffle oil (optional) and stir until mixed in.

The purée can be chilled and then gently warmed up before serving. It also keeps well if frozen – if you do freeze it ensure that you defrost it slowly in the fridge and then warm very gently before serving.

 

Notes:

  • Great served with red meat dishes, such as lamb shanks, or smothered on vegetables. As an example I steamed some cauliflower until al dente and then baked it in a medium hot oven covered in the artichoke purée.
  • Celeriac is another great ‘earthy’ root that can be used instead of Jerusalem artichoke. Sometimes when I’m feeling fruity I combine the two.

Tomato Water

Introduction:

This is seriously going to dazzle your taste buds. That little world-wide member of the nightshade supporters club, the multi-talented tomato makes an appearance as what most would see as a little understated and almost invisible. What we are going to do is blitz him (or her) to a pulp with a little herb and some salt and then leave him alone for a few hours in a cold place to deliver some seriously delicious juice. We’re going turn that bright red ripened fruit into a clear water-like liquid.

This will be the most rounded and balanced tomato flavour you will have had the chance to get those umami taste buds of yours around. Why?

Firstly, this ripe, sweet and tart fruit is considered by most to be a vegetable because of its savoury taste. Tomatoes have uniquely high levels of glutamic acid and sulphur compounds. These savoury chemicals are usually found in meat rather than fruit, and are the reason that tomatoes pair so well with meat dishes and add fantastic depth and complexity to sauces.

Secondly, a tomato, by anatomy, consists of a cuticle (the skin), the fruit wall, a semi-liquid jelly covering the seeds and the pith (the central part). The amino acids (such as glutamic acid) and sugars are mainly in the wall of the tomato. The acidity concentration is highest in the liquid jelly. The aroma compounds in a tomato are mainly in the cuticle and wall. When one removes the jelly, seeds, pith and cuticle of the tomato to cook, what’s remaining is a high concentration of sugar and savouriness. This unbalances the flavour of the tomato leading to a sweeter result that sacrifices the acidity (malic and citric acid) and aroma. The latest research from Reading University in England has indicated that there are also high levels of glutamic acid in the seeds, so by discarding those we are also losing some of the savouriness.

When tomatoes are cooked down to a sauce they gain some flavour notes, such as violet and lavender. This is as result of a breakdown of the carotenoid pigment (the pigment that gives tomatoes their red colour). However, cooking also removes some of those ‘green’ fresh notes – you know the smell you get from tomato leaf.

This here tomato water then keeps the integrity of that tomato intact – What we are doing is slowly extracting the savouriness (the glutamic acid), the sweetness and the acidity, and keeping that wonderful freshness. And slowly is the key. Give it a go; I promise that if you’re in to tomatoes then you’ll be amazed.

 

Serves: 4   |   Preparation:  10 minutes  |   Cooking: Resting – 6 hours

 

Ingredients:

1.2 kg Ripened Tomatoes | Ripened Roma or truss tomatoes are great. Cut in to quarters.
5g Basil leaves | Freshly picked.
1 tbsp. Sea salt | I’m a Maldon fan.
½ sprig Thyme leaves | A few fresh leaves from about half a sprig.

 

 

How To:

Add the tomatoes, basil, sea salt and thyme leaves to a food processor and blitz until the tomatoes are very finely chopped.

Line a fine meshed sieve with a double layer of muslin or cheese cloth. Put the sieve over a large bowl, ensuring it will fit in your fridge! Put the finely chopped tomato mixture into the sieve and leave to rest in the fridge for about 6 hours. Do not be tempted to apply any pressure to the tomato mixture to speed up the process; you will end up with a cloudy liquid.

After 6 hours you will have some umami popping decadent tomato water.

Notes:

  • I use this tomato water in my gazpacho cappuccino shooter (which will be up on Duck and Roses soon). However, it’s ideal served as a consommé with small pieces of seafood or greens such as peas or baby fava beans (a Michel Roux idea).
  • This consommé can be warmed, but to no greater than 70 deg C (158 deg F) or else it will go cloudy.
  • Tomatoes and the fridge? Although this recipe requires standing in the fridge, keep tomatoes at room temperature when storing. They originate from warm climates (although I have never understood their hardiness in an Englishman’s greenhouse) and thus do not like to be stored in the cold. Green tomatoes will lose their freshness if stored in the fridge. Ripe tomatoes are not as sensitive but do lose flavour due to the slowing down of flavour enzyme activity. Some of this flavour can be restored in cold-stored ripened tomatoes if they are brought back up to room temperature.

 

 

Thai Green Curry Paste

The light penetrated the tiny apertures, known to me as eyes. Sensations began to return to my toes, feet, legs, body, head… and brain. The surroundings became focused in contrast to the Gaussian blur from a few hours previous. The land I was in was an unknown, an eastern paradise that had magnetised this wet behind the ears traveller. For 48 hours I had been consumed by this city; but what happened? Ten years before movies with a group of blokes forgetting themselves in Vegas and Bangkok were in vogue, this happened:

It started off with a green curry. The highest expectation I had of this land was the promise of the magical chicken green curry, a dish that I first experienced at an establishment next door to the Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth. When I say next door it was opposite Windsor Castle, the Thai Castle as it was known. But now I was in Khao San Road and the dish was exquisite, as was the Singha beer, which I believe with the single malt whisky that my newly found Swedish travelling partner had procured was the start of 48 hours in Bangkok.

After socialising with the world’s travelling fraternity in this most famous of backpacking roads my Swedish friend and I were accosted by the most painfully boring Englishman (this is an anomaly, please believe me) that caused us to decide to either a) go back to the ‘hotel’ and call it a night, or b) carry on. There wouldn’t be much story if I told you that we chose ‘a’, so ‘b’ it was. Wouldn’t it be cool to grab a tuk-tuk at 3am in the morning and tour Bangkok? With Chang beer in tow, we grabbed a tuk-tuk and for two hours had the most incredible guided tour – down back alleys, traversing roads of neon lights, past beautifully lit temples and pagodas; a city that never seemed to sleep.

On our return to Khao San two hours later we seamlessly joined back with the party until day broke. Then it was straight to breakfast were we met a fantastic American dude who had just spent 5 years doing time in a high security penitentiary, part of which he was cooking for some mafia boss. You couldn’t write about it could you?

We spent the rest of the 48 hours with this guy which from the hazy recollections involved playing cards with motorcyclists; walking through the back door of some building down a back alley only to end up walking through the kitchen of a major hotel restaurant; the Englishman, the Swede and the American whistling some anthem whilst casually smiling at the head chef and giving an ‘a-ok’ to the presentation; arm wrestling with locals for baht, playing darts with some Norwegians, drinking local whisky with some dodgy dudes from somewhere in the world, boating down the river with some Danes, eating street food ranging from bugs (come on you have to try it once) to coconut and banana fritters, and eventually arriving back at the hotel 48 hours later; stupefied, exhausted, exhilarated and slightly worse for wear.

Of all that I did in those wonderful times travelling the memories of the food has always stuck with me, and in particular that Thai green curry has. I can’t promise you 48 hours in Bangkok but what I can promise is that my version of Thai green curry paste has been through as many adventures to arrive at its present form, and I am sure you’ll love it. By the way I didn’t end up with a Mike Tyson tattoo or a missing tooth.

 

Serves: 8 Servings   |   Preparation:  20-30 minutes   |   Cooking: 2-3 minutes

 

Ingredients:

3 Stalks  Lemongrass | Use the heart only. Remove the outer layer and then finely chop the white part.
6 Green Chilli | Use chillies with medium heat. Use 3 seeded and 3 deseeded. Finely chop.
2 cloves Garlic | Peeled and sliced.
40g (when peeled) Galangal | Peeled and chopped.
1 bunch Coriander plus roots | Clean the roots and finely chop. Chop the leaves.
½ tbsp. Cumin seeds | Toast in a hot pan until fragrant and then grind.
1 tbsp. Coriander seeds | Toast in a hot pan until fragrant and then grind.
½ tsp. Black peppercorns | Toast in a hot pan until fragrant and then grind.
1 lime Lime zest | Grated.
1 lime Lime juice | Use the same lime that was zested (above).
20g Shrimp paste (belacan) | Wrap in foil and heat under a hot grill for about 2 minutes. Unwrap from the oil.
3 tbsp. Nam pla (fish sauce) |  
50g Asian shallots | Finely chopped. Asian shallots have a purplish skin.
1 large Kaffir lime leaf | Or two small. Remove the central vein and finely chop.
2 tbsp. Peanut oil |

 

 

How To:

Prepare the ingredients as per their relevant notes. Put all ingredients in to a food processor and blitz until smooth. I find that a food processor doesn’t produce a paste as smooth as I like, so after processing I then blitz the paste with a hand blender, which really does the job quite superbly.

Another way is to put all the ingredients in a large mortar and pestle and to pound and then grind. This takes a bit of muscle power and energy, but the final paste is excellent.

You can store this in sterilised jars in the fridge for a few weeks. For a curry for four people I usually use half of the total amount of curry paste produced in this recipe.

Notes:

  • I will post recipes using this paste in future blogs.

Lamb Stock

Introduction:

Making stock can be a right royal pain in the derriere – the concept I initially struggled with was spending hours cooking something that was not going to be eaten straight away. The roasting, boiling, skimming, simmering, filtering, chilling, skimming, filtering… and for what? For liquid gold, that is what. And that is why the struggle was only initial because when I discovered the potential of home-made stock it became a culinary pleasure; a necessity; a vital part of flavour in the kitchen.

Lamb stock is amazing. Reduced down to a glace (when a stock is reduced to 10% of its original volume) or demi-glace (stock is reduced to 25-40% of its original volume) you end up with a wonderfully rich sauce which can transform the nice into the incredible; something I believe is used in the armoury of good chefs to elevate their food into the heavenly.

I really like to understand why things happen and what happens when cooking and have recently been interested in stocks. Have you ever wondered why red meat stocks are cooked for much longer than chicken or fish stocks? Why does the fat that aggregates at the surface of a stock have very little taste yet we know that the fat in marbled steak contains a lot of flavour? What is the initial foam that accumulates on the surface and why should it be skimmed?

 

Quick answers to these questions:

Red meat bones are more robust than chicken, which are more robust than fish. Apart from compounds that are easily extracted from the connective tissues in red meat when making stock there is another process that occurs. This process is the break down (hydrolysis) of collagen, the main protein of connective tissue, to components such as gelatine. This break down requires prolonged exposure to heat (simmering), usually for a few hours. Apart from the other ingredients, such as herbs and vegetables, this breakdown of the connective tissue is what imparts the wonderful flavour to stock. In addition, the browning of the bones prior to simmering promotes the Maillard reaction (breakdown of surface proteins) which adds significant flavour to the stock.

Regarding the tasteless fat on the surface of the stock – usually flavour components are fat soluble or water soluble (there are chemicals to help components dissolve in both, but that’s getting too much into chemistry!). It is believed that the compounds that are extracted during the simmering and breaking down of the collagen in stock are water soluble so dissolve in the water and not the fat; hence tasteless fat. When cooking steak the collagen and fat is not heated long enough to break down so the flavour remains in the fat.

And that foam at the surface of the stock – these are proteins that broken down and then coagulate and form the foam. They don’t add any value to the stock, and need to be removed especially if you are making a clear stock, such as a consommé.

There is a whole science around what happens when making stock which I have only just scratched the surface of. However, the bottom line is that whatever wizardry happens during the cooking, a great stock should be on hand…and here’s your chance now to make yourself a super little lamb stock.

 

Serves:  2.5 litres   |   Preparation:  1 hour + settle overnight  |   Cooking: 5 hours

 

Ingredients:

2.5kg Lamb bones | Cut into 10-15cm pieces.
2 Carrots | Peeled and roughly chopped.
2 Celery sticks | Roughly chopped.
2 Brown onions | Peeled and roughly chopped.
½ kg Tomatoes | Nice and ripe – you can use Roma, as an example.
1 Bouquet garni | See Bouquet Garni for Chicken and Meat – substitute rosemary for tarragon.

 

 

How To:

Preheat oven to 180 deg C (350 deg F). Put your lamb bones in a roasting tin and roast in the oven for about an hour. We want to see some lovely browning and great lamb aromas emanating. Put the roasted bones in a stock pan with 5 litres of cold water. Discard any lamb fat from the roasting tin. Add 100ml of water to the roasting tin, heat it on the stove top, and using a wooden spoon deglaze the tin. Pour the deglaze into the stock pot.

Bring the water and bones to the boil and then reduce the heat until the water is simmering. Skim away the foam that congregates at the surface. The best way to do this is to take a small ladle or tablespoon, swirl the water until the foam moves outwards and then skim. When the water is clear add the vegetables, tomatoes and bouquet garni. Bring back to the boil and then put on a very low simmer for 4 hours, leaving the pot uncovered.

When the four hours are up strain the stock through a fine sieve and then allow the stock to cool. Put the stock in the fridge overnight. The fat will rise to the surface and solidify. Remove the hardened fat and then strain again through a fine meshed sieve.

 

Notes:

  • The stock keeps for about a week in the fridge; otherwise freeze in portions.
  • Lamb stock has a very distinct flavour and is therefore mostly used in lamb based dishes.

 

Squid Ink Fettuccine

Introduction:

I remember seeing black pasta for the first time and being enchanted with the look of it. I was particularly taken with the contrast of the black against the pink hue of king prawns, the deep red of red pepper (capsicum) and the green of freshly hand-picked green beans. As I learnt how to make my own pasta, I also learnt about squid ink, the colouring used to blacken pasta, and how it also provided a very subtle ocean saltiness to the pasta.

If I’m feeling fruity I will buy a whole squid, clean it and extract the ink from the ink sac. Otherwise I buy pre-packaged squid or cuttlefish ink, which is equally as good.

 

Serves: 4   |   Preparation:  40 minutes   |   Cooking: 90 minutes standing time

 

Ingredients:

3 large  Eggs | Organic free range eggs are by far the best.
300g  00 plain flour | oo is a much finer flour than standard plain  flour and is a ideal for pasta.
8g  Squid ink | Alternatively, I use 2x4g sachets of nero di sepia, cuttlefish ink.
A pinch  Sea salt  |
About 1 tbsp.   Olive oil  |
For dusting  Flour | Plain flour can be used.

 

 

How To:

There are two methods that I use. The first is by using a mechanical device such as a food processor or food mixer with a dough hook (like a KitchenAid) where you can add all the ingredients and let the machine do the work. Here I will describe the more traditional method. The advantage with this method is twofold. Firstly I find that manually making the pasta works the dough a little less which leads to a more delicate pasta. Secondly, I find making pasta by hand very therapeutic and it just feels like real cooking.

On a clean bench make a mound with the 00 flour and within the mound make a well. In the well add the eggs and squid ink and a pinch of sea salt. Now with a fork carefully whisk the eggs and squid ink until well mixed, without incorporating any flour. Once mixed start flicking the flour into the egg mix and ‘cut’ the mix with a palette knife. Keep introducing the flour and ‘cutting’ it in to the egg mix until you have a large breadcrumb type consistency.

Now get your hands in there and bring it all together. Pour over the olive oil and then start working the dough gently until you have a smooth and shiny dough ball. Wrap the dough in cling film and put in a fridge to rest for about 30 minutes.

For the next part I use a pasta roller, which is where I break away from the tradition of manually rolling the pasta with a rolling pin. Cut the dough ball into quarters. Take the first quarter and on a floured surface flatten it with the palm of your hands until you have a rectangle. Roll the pasta through your pasta roller on the widest setting. Once rolled, fold the rectangle 1/3 third in from the left and 1/3 in from the right. Turn 90 degrees and roll it again on the widest setting. Repeat this process. Now, ensuring the pasta is well dusted with flour start rolling it through the pasta roller.

Start with the widest setting and then work towards the narrowest setting. I like a thick fettuccine, so out of the 6 settings that my pasta roller has, with 6 being the narrowest, I roll the pasta to setting 5. Once rolled, dust the pasta with flour again and then cut using the fettuccine cutter on your pasta maker. Of course you can cut it and roll it to whatever shape and thickness you want.

Leave the pasta to rest at room temperature for an hour or so, and then it’s ready to cook.


Notes:

  • If your pasta dough ball is still a little dry after kneading you can add a little more olive oil (but not too much) to moisten
  • You can leave out the ink for regular pasta.

 

Citrus Cured Salmon

Introduction:

I love smoke cured salmon – there’s no two ways about it. I love the creamy oily texture, the smoky and salty punch and how it combines so wonderfully with capers, dill and cream cheese on a warmed bagel.But me being me I wanted to be able to create a cured salmon at home. The difficulty with home smoking is that most foods end up cooked. When smoking in an enclosed smoking box, for example, the heat used to produce the smoke is enough to cook the food. Smoked salmon is cold smoked, so unless you have specialised equipment or indeed a smokehouse hanging around the back garden – maybe one day – the next best thing is to cure the salmon with salt.

Curing fish with salt and sugar has been practised in Scandanavia for many centuries, and today is known as gravlax, gravadlax or lox in English speaking countries. The purpose of curing with salt and sugar is to preserve the salmon as well as impart a lightly salted taste. The salt also causes the salmon to lose some of its moisture as well as a breakdown of some of the salmon proteins which in turn tenderises the fish. So using the historical base of salmon fillet, salt and sugar I have played around with curing salmon by adding various additional flavours and varying curing times to get a lightly salted salmon with a fragrant nuance. This following recipe is one that I now use regularly for home-cured citrus salmon.

Serves: 2-4 depending on usage  |   Preparation:  20 minutes   |   Cooking: Curing time – 10 hours

 

Ingredients:

300g Salmon fillet piece | I use fresh Tasmanian salmon fillet, ensuring that it is trimmed of any sinew and has been skinned.
1 Lemon zest | Finely grated.
1 Navel orange zest | Finely grated.
1 Lime zest | Finely grated.
100g Sea Salt | I use Maldon sea salt flakes.
75g Raw sugar | This is the large brown granular sugar. Sometimes I use an organic sugar called Rapadura from Colombia which has an intensely caramelised flavour.
2 Star anise pods |
½ tsp. Coriander seeds |

 

 

How To:

Take all the ingredients, apart from the salmon fillet, and blitz in a miniature blender or with a hand blender for about 30 seconds. The key here is to get a uniform mixture where the spices have been broken down and the zests, sugar and salt are well mixed.

Lay out a sheet of cling film (about 40 cm in length) and to the middle spoon about half of the salt mix. Spread and shape the mix in to a rectangle, slight larger than the base of the salmon fillet. Place the fillet on top of the salt mix and then spoon the rest of the mix on top of the salmon, again spreading so this time the top of the fillet is completely covered. Now tightly wrap the cling film around the salmon and salt mix, ensuring that there are no gaps that leave the salmon exposed. Take another piece of cling film the same size as the first and wrap it tightly around the salmon. Repeat this with a third piece of cling film. Put the salmon in a fridge for 10 hours to cure – I recommend putting a plate or kitchen paper under the salmon as sugary salty liquid is sure to seep out. After 10 hours, unwrap the salmon and wash away the salt mixture with cold water, until completely removed, and then wash the salmon again for good measure. Pat the salmon dry and then wrap in a piece of cling film, unless you are using straight away. I keep this in the fridge for up to 2 weeks, or freeze it for up to a month.

 

Notes:

  • This salmon is lightly salted, which is my preference. For a more intense saltiness and flavour you can weigh the salmon down whilst it is curing with a baking tray with a couple of tins of beans on it, for example. The weight encourages more of the moisture to be removed from the salmon. Also you can cure the salmon for longer, say up to 24 hours. Experimentation is the best part.

Chicken Stock

Introduction:

This is one of the staple basics of cooking, especially for sauces and soups. I have played around with a number of variations of chicken stock, ranging from the lightly fragrant to the deeply intense. What I have personally settled on is a stock that meets somewhere in the middle. I will use this unreduced when I want to take advantage of the delicate flavours within the stock, for example in light soups and when used for poaching. Reduced, this stock has a richly deep flavour and ideal for rich sauces. One of the great flavour enhancers in this stock is to roast the chicken wings sprinkled with milk powder (this idea was inspired by Heston Blumenthal). The protein in milk powder (casein) seems to promote the browning, or Maillard reaction, of the chicken during the roasting process – the more browning the more intense the flavour.

 

Serves: About 3 litres  |   Preparation: 30 minutes   |   Cooking: 2.5 hours

 

Ingredients:

For the Chicken Wings
1kg  Free range chicken wings |
Sprinkling Dried Milk Powder | This should be a light sprinkling.
100ml Hot water | Used for deglazing.
For the Stock
2 Free range chicken carcasses | Cut into 10cm pieces.
4 Cold Water | About 1 litre is lost during simmering.
1 Carrot | Peeled and roughly chopped.
1 Onion | Halved.
2 Cloves | 1 clove studded in each onion half.
1 Celery stalk | Ensure the stalk is green – roughly chopped.
100g Swiss brown mushrooms | Thinly sliced – do not rinse as this tends to wash away some of the flavour.
1 Leek | White part only – roughly chopped.
1 Bouquet Garni | Click here for Bouquet Garni.

 

How To:

Put the chicken wings in a roasting tin so that they fit snugly. Sprinkle with milk powder and put in an oven which has been preheated to 200 deg C. Roast for approximately 45 minutes, or until they are a deep sticky brown. Remove from the roasting tin, drain the fat from the roasting tin and then deglaze the tin with the hot water. The deglaze has an intense flavour.

In a stock pot add the roasted chicken wings, deglaze, chicken carcass pieces and cold water. Bring to the boil and then simmer gently, skimming the foamy scum that forms on top. I use a small ladle and create a swirling motion from the centre of the pot which forces the foam to the edge. This foam is then skimmed from the surface. The foam is a result of proteins breaking down and aggregating on the surface. By clearing the foam you have a much better chance of having a clear stock.

After about 4-5 minutes add the rest of the ingredients, and then simmer the stock gently and uncovered for 1.5 hours. Filter the stock through a fine meshed sieve, and allow to cool. Once cool store in the fridge overnight so that the fat hardens and is easy to skim from the surface. Once most of the fat has been removed use within a week or freeze for later.

 

Notes:

  • I personally don’t add salt to a stock, as I will season the dish that the stock goes in to.
  • I pour the stock in to 250ml disposable cups covered with lids made from foil, and then freeze.