Lemon Grass and Ginger Scented Pork Broth

So my mother never taught me how to make a traditional Vietnamese clear pork broth. From tasting different versions, I had an inkling what was in them and the other day, I decided to try and make one up. The results were rather spectacular. I could have just sat down with a huge mug and downed it all day. While I didn’t get any pictures of the broth itself, this broth recipe was used in both the Pork Meatball soup (http://cookingforthogg.livejournal.com/18038.html) and the Pork, Tofu and Cabbage soup (http://cookingforthogg.livejournal.com/17820.html)

Ingredients:

  • 3 lbs pork bones, shoulder or any cut that still has some meat is preferred
  • 1 medium sized onion (a few shallots would be a better substutution)
  • 1 rib of celery
  • 1 large stalk of lemon grass
  • 1 large piece of ginger (1 to 1.5 thumb sizes)
  • 9 cups of water
  • 15 whole peppercorns
  • 15 whole coriander seeds
  • Nouc Mam (Vietnamese Fish Sauce) to taste
  • Salt to taste

Directions:

  • Into a large stock pot add the bones. Rinse them several times with water and drain. Add enough water to cover them and then some (around 9 cups). Peel the onion and give it a couple slices and plop it in the pot. Hack the celery into a few large pieces and drop it in the pot too. For the lemon grass and ginger, grab a wooden mallet or heavy duty rolling pin. Give the lemon grass several healthy whacks up and down the length of it until it splits open a bit. You want it mangled but still in one piece. Do the same for the ginger. Add all the other ingredients. For the Nouc Mam, start with 2 Tbs and omit the salt for now.
  • The trick to making a clear broth is to not quite let the soup boil and to also skim off any foam that does form. Bring the heat up until it comes close to boiling and then bring it back down to a very low setting. Using a large spoon, skim off any foam that forms. You will need to do this for the first 15-20 minutes. Any foam that goes back into the pot will make a cloudy broth.
  • After foam stops forming, cover the pot, leave it on a very low setting and let it very slowly cook away for at least two hours. Keep an eye on it to make sure it doesn’t boil. The hottest you want it is at a very slow simmer – one to two bubbles every few seconds.
  • After about 2 hours give it a taste. It will probably need more salt. My rule of thumb for Nouc Mam is to go a Tbs at a time if it is fairly under-seasoned. When it gets close to being perfect, I stop adding Nouc Mam and start using pinches of kosher or sea salt.
  • After it is seasoned and has cooked for 2 hours or more you can fish out the bones. If you are like me and like chewing the meat off bones, you will set these aside for chowing on later. They are great dipped in a little hoisin and some hot rooster sauce. Fish out the rest of the big veg pieces and discard. Use a fine sieve and strain the rest of the broth into a large container.
  • Use your broth for any asian inspired soup you would like to create. You can start with these recipes if you like: http://cookingforthogg.livejournal.com/18038.html and http://cookingforthogg.livejournal.com/17820.html
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