Yesterday, when BBQ Man was just about to head off to uni, I reminded him to have lunch first and added that there was leftover chicken and some rice. I made soy sauce chicken the night before, and it was really, really good. I had plans for the leftover chicken, too. I was going to have it with noodles in a lovely soup made from some masterstock…mmm…it was going to be good. I’d been thinking and dreaming about it all morning.

When I was well and truly hungry, I went to the fridge and pulled out the dish that had the chicken in it. Lifted the lid to find…scraps. I stared for ages, willing my eyes to be wrong. But no. My beautiful soy sauce chicken had disappeared – all of it – and was now in someone’s satisfied belly. I can’t remember the last time I flew into a towering rage.

 My chicken, O my chicken!

 Before I knew it, my fingers were flying over my iphone, unleashing a torrent of swear words on to Facebook. All the ones I never ever use, and never even thought I’d remember. It was just as well that BBQ Man was at uni. This quite possibly saved our marriage. That, and that my substitute lunch was pretty good. No, actually, it was pretty sensational.

This is another masterstock miracle. If you dilute masterstock with some water, it turns into a delicious broth, perfect for having with noodles and chicken (if you can get it…grr). I cooked some shiitake mushrooms with the chicken the night before, and saved some for my noodle lunch. I ended up having some silken tofu and mushrooms with noodles, in the masterstock broth with ginger chilli sauce stirred through.

Sooooo good that I really didn’t miss the chicken. The broth had amazing depth and range of flavour, the noodles, tofu and mushrooms were soft, tender, silky, slippery smooth. I can’t wait to have it again. And. I guess I have to say it : It’s just as well my chicken got eaten.

 

Masterstock Noodles

This dish is easy enough to make the day after you’ve cooked using your masterstock. I cooked chicken in my masterstock and added mushrooms. After cooking, set aside some mushrooms and chicken and about 1.5 cup of masterstock and keep this overnight in the fridge. Strain and store the rest of the masterstock as per usual. I like using somen noodles for this dish; somen is very fine wheat noodles and is great in soup because it takes on that lovely silky texture.

Dilute 1.5 cup of masterstock with 1 cup of water and bring to boil. Add the noodles, and once it has softened, add the mushrooms. Place tofu into your noodle bowl. Once the noodles are just done (it will cook quite quickly), slide it all into your noodle bowl. The masterstock broth will warm up the tofu. Stir some ginger chilli sauce through for a spicy finish. This isn’t a recipe as such-just a rough guide. You can add whatever you like to this dish – blanched beansprouts or bok choy, chicken, beef, pork…the combinations are endless. Enjoy!

You’ll find my Masterstock post here.

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Precious Liquid

 

A Chinese masterstock almost defies our modern culinary sensibilities. A stock that is used, over and over again, for years, even generations, seemingly without end? It seems that there are masterstocks in China that have been in use for more than a hundred years. Restaurants maintain their masterstocks by keeping it at a constant simmer when not in use. This keeps the stock from spoiling. Homecooks maintain their masterstock by straining and immediately refridgerating or freezing it straight after use.

Before I moved to Toowoomba, I maintained a masterstock for more than a year. It wasn’t feasible to keep it over our move ( I had more than a week in transit on my way over), so I had to kiss it goodbye. And for some reason I didn’t think of starting a new one until this week. I bought some chicken maryland and it suddenly occured to me that they would perfect, cooked in some masterstock. So I set about making a new masterstock.

It’s a relatively simple thing to start a masterstock. You can find all the ingredients in a good supermarket or Asian grocer. And, if you can’t find all the ingredients to start with, you can just add it later. You’ll need some light and dark soy sauce, Chinese rice wine, star anise, cinnamon, garlic, ginger and spring onions. Some recipes include dried licorice root and orange peel. I didn’t have those, but I’ll use them at a later stage.

Chinese masterstocks are basically used for poaching and braising things like chicken, duck and pork. Each time you use the stock, replenish it with the original ingredients and add water to make up the 6 litres of stock that you would have started with. Over time the flavours in the stock intensify and the colour deepens – so basically it will make your dishes more and more delicious, the more you use it. Yum.

After cooking with the masterstock, you will need to strain the liquid and either put it in the fridge or freeze it. If you plan to use it everyweek, it’s fine to just keep it in the fridge. If you don’t end up using it, just take it out and give it a good boil for about 20 minutes, then put it back in the fridge. Otherwise just freeze and defrost when you need it.

This is my recipe for making soy sauce chicken, which is simply chicken poached in masterstock. (The link for Kylie Kwong’s masterstock recipe will follow).We had it for dinner last night, very simply served with sliced cucumber, freshly made chilli and ginger sauce, and some rice. It was amazingly good for so simple a meal. The chicken was succulently sweet and deeply flavoured from the masterstock, and the chilli sauce added zing. And then a slice of cool cucumber balances it all together. Deeelicious!  

 

Soy Sauce Chicken

Serves 3-4

Ingredients:

3 pieces chicken maryland

4 cloves garlic, sliced

1/2 cup sliced ginger

1/2 cup dark soy sauce

3 spring onions

1/2 cup shao hsing wine

Enough masterstock to completely cover the chicken

Method

Place all the ingredients except the chicken in a wok or pan

Bring to boil and simmer for 20 minutes

Add the chicken and allow to return to a very slow simmer for 15 minutes

Take the wok/pot off heat and leave to cool for an hour

Remove chicken carefully from the masterstock, debone and slice

Serve with rice, sliced cucumber and ginger chilli sauce (recipe below)

Ginger Chilli Sauce

100g red chillis,

1 clove garlic, peeled

2 inch knob of ginger, peeled and sliced

Juice of one lime

1 tbs sugar

1/2 tsp salt

 Blend ginger and chillis, then add the rest of the ingredients and blend until relatively smooth

Kylie Kwong’s Soy Sauce Duck Recipe – http://www.lifestylefood.com.au/recipes/343/soy-sauce-duck contains her recipe for masterstock.