Two Days of Cooking Three (Plus) Kinds of Asian Stock
A bowl of soup brimming with vegetables and fresh noodles is the perfect end to a long day working in the garden. Hot, well-spiced bone broth, a rich and sweet silkie chicken soup, or a citrusy, spicy Thom Yum fish soup can go a long way towards restoring much-needed fats and nutrients before an evening workout and hot bath.
To skip the TL:DR section of this recipe and go down to the instructions, here are the links to each recipe:
The Asian markets where I buy the majority of my spices, as well as a lot of my fish and Buddhist style chickens, are over an hour away from where we live, so it’s a bit of a road trip. I like buying meat from there, as the butcher makes use of every single part of the animal and I can find things that really aren’t available elsewhere - like duck or chicken feet, which help give bone broth lots of extra collagen.
I make large pots of all the stocks and then preserve the stock in jars so that my family can have soup with fresh vegetables and greens from our garden for weeks. I go through a pretty large amount of bone broth, as I tend to have a hot cup of it in place of full meals when I don’t feel well, so having a variety on hand is wonderful.
This last weekend, I drove out and purchased beautiful golden tilefish, a Buddhist style silkie chicken, fresh lotus root, pork bones, duck feet, and hand-pulled noodles (I do, occasionally, acknowledge my limitations in the kitchen, and making Chinese style hand-pulled noodles is not a skill I have a lifetime to dedicate to learning.)
That night my family and I started the bone broth going (it cooks on very low heat overnight, between 14 and 24 hours), made the silkie chicken soup and stock to have through the week, and cooked the golden tilefish and the first chunk of lotus root for dinner, reserving the bones to make Thai style Thom Yum fish stock the next day.
After dinner, we removed the Silkie chicken from the pot to be shredded the next day and jarred all the stock. Some of the stock would go into making Silkie chicken soup through the week and some would go into the big pot of stock we were making for Chong Qing style noodle soup.
The next day we checked on the bone broth before we harvested greens from our garden. We cut down the last of the midsummer giant sunflowers, which had shed their seeds to come up next year. There weren’t many greens remaining that were edible - many had grown too large, fibrous, and damaged - but we gathered the ones we could. We’d been eating them all summer, wilted in bacon grease and sprinkled with Cajun spices or added to soups, but we’ll have to wait until spring for more.
We also harvested mustard greens (Brassica juncea) - ruby streaks and red giant varietals. It was our second crop of them, with another intended in fall, and another in early winter. We have been having them in salads, wilted like the sunflower greens, or added to smoothies. We’re looking forward to having even more of them through the next few months.
That night we started the fish stock going, finished making the big pot of bone broth, shredded the silkie chicken, and had big bowls of Chong Qing style noodle soup - each to our own taste - before jarring the fish stock for later in the week.
It was a long two days of harvesting and cooking, but I reap the rewards every time I go pull a jar down from the shelves and have it for lunch.
The ingredients for each of these recipes have medicinal and magical benefits that many people in my family need:
Golden Tilefish has a delicate, sweet flavor, similar to lobster. It is a good source of niacin and phosphorus and an excellent source of protein, vitamin B12, and selenium. Selenium interferes with viral replication in a body, giving a person who already has a virus a helping hand in fighting it off. They are magically associated with prosperity and the ocean, which cleanses and washes away ill health.
Silkie Chickens are beautiful, silky, and fluffy birds with black skin, flesh, and bones. Buddhist-style silkies are raised and slaughtered in an ethical fashion and sold with their feet and heads kept intact. Unlike the chickens sold in American supermarkets, which are usually not fresh and which often contain chemicals and hormones, the heritage breed contains no hormones or antibiotics and is not bred for large breasts and thighs or forced to grow quickly. Buddhist-style Silkie chickens are killed at the end of their full life span. Silkie chicken soup is traditionally used in Chinese medicine to bolster the health of the sick, the elderly, and pregnant persons, as it is rich in iron and other minerals and vitamins not present in American chickens bred for the supermarket. Silkie chickens also contain an antioxidant called carnosine. High concentrations of carnosine are good for muscles and the nervous system. Magically, silkie chickens are said to protect the health, ward against disease, and restore the body’s ability to defend itself against both mundane and magical damage. Normally, Buddhist-style silkie chickens are served in entirety, with the head and feet still intact. However, my family uses the head in home warding spells, so we remove it before cooking.
Pork Neck Bones and Femur Bones contain collagen and minerals that rebuild bone, connective tissue, and skin after damage. I don’t remove the bone marrow from the bones I cook with, as bone marrow contains linoleic acid, glycine, and glucosamine, which decrease inflammation, build better skin health, and improve joint function. I buy them in huge bags from the local ethical butchers, who use every part of their mature, pasture-raised animals. Mature bones not only provide richer flavor and more collagen, but they also come from animals that were allowed to live their full, natural lifespan.
Duck Feet contain large amounts of collagen, calcium, and phosphate and are an excellent source of chondroitin and glucosamine. Duck or chicken feet are added to bone broths to ensure a really gelatinous stock full of nutrients - I prefer duck feet because they are richer in flavor and because of nostalgia (my great-grandmother used to make me duck feet soup.) Magickally, duck bones and duck feet have been used by practitioners all over the world to tap into the connections between heaven and earth or as a ward against dangers while traveling. Some traditions around the world, especially in Scandinavia, buried their dead with duck bones. Although it is far more common for ancient graves in Scandinavia to contain duck wishbones, one grave at Fyrkat in Denmark uncovered a figure who was buried in a wagon, with henbane in the grave with them, wearing a pendant of three duck feet.
Tree Ear Mushrooms (Auricularia polytricha, also called black fungus or cloud ear fungus) are high in fiber, and in one study on rabbits were shown to lower cholesterol and aortic atherosclerotic plaque. They prevent cognitive decline and boost healthy heart function. Magickally, they are the ears of the forest and connect land and the underworld.
Lotus Root (Nelumbo nucifera) is reported to be diuretic, antidiabetic, and to have anti-inflammatory properties. It is also a mild psychoactive. Lotus is said to bring good dreams and ward against nightmares.
Turmeric Root (Curcurma longa) is anti-infective and anti-inflammatory. It also has a range of traditional uses including as a dye, as body paint for wedding celebrations, and as a form of ceremonial ward and blessing worn on the neck for wedding celebrations in India.
Galangal Root (Alpinia galanga) promotes digestion, alleviates respiratory diseases, and alleviates stomach problems. Carved into a poppet, it is used in rituals to dispel illness from the body.
Ginger (Ziniber offinalis) is a potent anti inflammatory and antinausea. It also aids digestion and can help ward against muscle soreness. Magickally, it is warming and connects to the energies of the rooted earth.
Garlic (Allium sativum) is anti-infective, antiseptic, and anti-inflammatory. Garlic is said to ward against evil and disease and provide strength.
Lemongrass (Cymbopogon citratus) In traditional Brazilian medicine, it is used for anxiolytic, hypnotic, and anticonvulsant properties. In Indian medicine, it is used as a stimulant, sudorific, antiperiodic, and anticatarrhal. In laboratory studies, it has shown cytoprotective, antioxidant, and anti-inflammatory, and antifungal properties. It has a range of magical and spiritual uses including dream pillows (for its relaxing scent), as well as in glamours, shapeshifting, and invisibility spells.
Chinese chives (Allium tuberosum, also called garlic chives) contain nutrients that are important for sleep and bone health. Chives were mentioned in 80 A.D. by Marcus Valerius Martialis in his "Epigrams", “He who bears chives on his breathe, Is safe from being kissed to death.”Chives are said to ward against negativity and have been used in fortune telling and exorcism rituals.
Scallions (Allium fistulosum, also called green onions) are antibacterial, antiviral, antifungal, antioxidant. Magically, will be used very similarly to chives.
Seaweed ((not always differentiated - the seaweed sold in Asian markets might be wakame, or Undaria pinnatifida, or various konbu species (Saccharina sp.)) is nutritionally dense with vitamins and minerals including calcium, magnesium, iodine, and vitamin B12. Magically, it can be used to bind evil. It contributes a briney quality that richens broths.
Cinnamon (Cinnamomum cassia; there are multiple types of cinnamon commonly used - Chinese cinnamon, or cassia cinnamon, is not “true cinnamon”, which is Cinnamomum ceylon. They have slightly different flavor profiles. Cassia cinnamon is what is most commonly found in grocery stores.) Medicinally, it is an anti-inflammatory and a blood thinner. Magically, it can be used for protection, banishing, empowerment, and grounding.
Jujubes (Ziziphus jujuba, also known as Chinese dates or red dates) are anti-fungal, anti-bacterial, anti-ulcer, anti-inflammatory purposes and sedation, antispastic, antifertility/contraception, hypotensive and antinephritic, cardiotonic, antioxidant, immunostimulant, and wound healing properties. It is not commonly used in western magical traditions, but is often found in Chinese and Korean traditional medicine. The wood of the jujube tree is also sometimes used to make mala beads.
Black Cardamom (Amomum subulatum; Amomum tsao-ko) (The variety I use in cooking Asian dishes is Amomum tsao-ko) helps prevent heart diseases. It helps control cardiac rhythm that balances the blood pressure and reduces the chances of developing blood clots. In Ayurvedic medicine, cardamom seeds are boiled in milk sweetened with honey to make a drink to treat impotence or depression. It is also used to treat cavities and bad breath. Magically, black cardamom is warming and stimulating, and is often used in spells for potency and arousal and for building a protected, safe and stable home. The pods are used in a similar manner to the green Indian cardamom pods (Elettaria cardamomum), but have a richer, more smoky flavour.
Pepper (Piper nigrum) in its white, black, and green form (all berries of the same plant). Green peppercorns are harvested early in the season, whereas black and white are harvested at the same time, but black peppercorns are immediately dried first whereas white peppercorns are soaked first to remove the outer husk. All three contribute a different flavor to the dishes, with green being sweeter, black being biting and tingly, and white being resinous and herbaceous. All three are antioxidants and all three are said to ward against various kinds of harmful magic.
Prickly Ash (Zanthoxylum americanum, also called pink pepper or Sichuan pepper) was also used, which which isn’t from the same plant as the others “peppers”. Prickly ash contributes a citrusy, electric, numbing, sensation. All four “peppers” together create a unique fusion of spice. Prickly ash aids circulation and is said to break the effects of negative magick.
Coriander (Coriandrum sativum) is an anti-infective and antioxidant that also treats stomach ailments. It is used for love and healing spells and is found in aphrodisiac and beauty spells and potions. It is popular around the world as a method of preserving meat and flavoring alcohol. In the recipes we made over the weekend, we used both the dried seed and the fresh stems and leaves. Ideally, in the Thom Yum soup, we’d have used coriander root, as well, but it was not available.
Orange Peels (citrus x sinensis) are full of hesperidin, a flavonoid that's been shown in clinical studies to lower blood pressure and cholesterol. It also boosts the immune system. In magick, oranges are associated with happiness, fertility, warmth, and health through winter.
Limes (Citrus × aurantiifolia) also boost the immune system, as well as protect against nutrient deficiencies, lower blood sugar, and ward against infection. Magically, lime cleanses and wards against disease.
Makrut Lime Leaves (Citrus hystrix; also called Thai lime leaves or kaffir lime leaves - kaffir is actually a slur in South Africa for darker skinned black Africans, so please be aware of this, and consider calling them Makrut limes, instead) are antibacterial and used to treat mouth ailments. Spiritually, they or the fruit of the Makrut lime are used along with "lustral water", in which the burning and extinction of a candle above the water represents the elements of earth, fire, and air, which is used in Buddhist purification and protection home rituals.
Chili (Capsicum annuum) reduces inflammation and fights infection. Magically, chilis bring potency and vitality and ward against disease. I used several kinds of chili through these recipes - Thai bird’s eye chilis, chili negro (also called pasilla), and dried Tianjin chilis from the Sichuan region of China. The chili negro are not native to the regions any of these recipes are from, but I like the sweet warmth they contribute, and I tend to add them to everything.
Star Anise (Illicium verum) contains thymol, terpineol and anethole, which are used for treating cough and influenza. Star anise reduces cramps and nausea, as well. It is popular in warding spells and “far sight” potions and is used to increase psychic powers and bolster luck in games of chance.
Cloves (Syzygium aromaticum) are rich in the potent antioxidant eugenol, which prevents free radical damage, and are used for both their antimicrobial activities and their ability to topically treat pain and inflammation. They are associated with wealth and rarity, as well as protection, warmth, and healing.
Fennel seeds (Foeniculum vulgare) help regulate blood pressure and aleve swelling, bloating, and inflammation. They also help with respiratory ailments. Magically, fennel gives confidence and strength. British farmers used to rub a mixture of fennel seeds, soap, and salt on the blades of their plows to strengthen the land and encourage better harvests. They are also associated with fertility - for this reason, fennel was once tossed onto newlyweds. Fennel was also hung over the doorway on Midsummer Eve to keep away evil and the seeds were put into keyholes to keep away harmful spirits.
Wolf berries (Lycium barbarum or Lycium chinensis, which are sold interchangeably and under the same name and which have virtually identical properties, also called Goji berries) prevent clots, treat high blood pressure, treat high blood sugar, help with wakefulness and concentration, and are powerful antioxidants. They are added to sachets for happiness and healing.
Hsuji Peanuts (Arachis hypogaea) are an excellent plant-based source of protein that are high in various vitamins, minerals, and healthy fats. The variety group mostly exported by China is called ‘Hsuji’, which is a ‘Spanish’ type with a round shape. Magickally, they are associated with stability, security, and prosperity.
Buddhist-Style Silkie Chicken Soup and Stock
- One Buddhist-style silkie chicken
- Star anise - four to six stars
- Dried orange peel - a handful, approximately three to four peels
- Cardamom - four to six pods
- Cloves - about one tablespoon
- Wolfberries - about one to two tablespoons
- Fennel Seeds - about one to one and a half tablespoons
- Tianjin chilis - to taste, up to a small handful
- Fresh turmeric root - two to three inches, peeled and sliced
- Fresh ginger root - two inches, peeled and sliced
- Fresh galangal root - two inches, peeled and sliced
- Fresh lemongrass - one stalk, bruised with the back of the knife and cut into slices
- Garlic chives - several stalks, cut in half or into large chunks
- Seaweed - between two and four knots, depending on desired brininess
- Cinnamon - one to two sticks
- Jujubes - four to five
- Rice wine vinegar - at least two tablespoons, up to a quarter of a cup
- Shaoxing cooking wine - a quarter of a cup to a third of a cup
- Soy sauce - to taste
- Chili oil - to taste
Place the chicken in a vessel deep enough to cover it with water. Toast all of the dry spices and aromatics until warm and fragrant; add them to the pot with the chicken. Add the rest of the aromatics - turmeric, ginger, galangal, lemongrass, and garlic chives. Cover the chicken with water and add the rice wine vinegar and Shaoxing cooking wine. Simmer on low for two and half hours, skimming away and greasy or grey foam that rises to the top of the stock.
At the end of the cooking time, the soup can be served “as is”, with some soy sauce for added savoriness or chili oil for added spice, or the chicken can be removed and shredded and served over rice or noodles with a ladleful of the broth.
We reserved the shredded chicken and the stock to have throughout the week as Silkie chicken soup and in Chongqing style noodle soup the next day.
One chicken made five quarts of stock.
Chongqing Style Bone Broth
- 3 to 4 pounds of pork bones, ideally both ones with large amounts of exposed marrow and those with some meat
- Oil - a neutral tasting oil is best, approximately two to three tablespoons
- Prickly ash - two to three tablespoons, to taste, as the more prickly ash you add, the more numbing and tingling taste the stock will have
- Coriander seed - two tablespoons
- Fennel seed - two tablespoons
- Green peppercorn - two tablespoons
- Wolfberries - a small handful or approximately three tablespoons
- Star anise - six to eight stars
- Orange peel - a handful or five to six peels
- Cinnamon - two to three sticks
- Black cardamom - six to eight pods
- Cloves - one to two tablespoons
- Tianjin chilis - between four to six and up to a large handful, depending on preferred spice level
- Ginger - three to four inch chunk, cut into slices
- Garlic - two heads, smashed or cut in half
- Garlic chives - three to four stalks, cut or snapped into large pieces
- Scallions - three or four stalks, cut or snapped into large pieces, using both the green and the white
- Duck or chicken feet - eight to ten
- Jujubes - four to six
- Seaweed - four to six knots, depending on desired brininess
- Rice wine vinegar - between three tablespoons and a quarter cup
- Shaoxing cooking wine - a quarter of a cup to a third of a cup
- Chili negro - at least one and up to three, torn into pieces (the ones I used in the video were soaked in water as they were going into another recipe, as well, but that’s not necessary, as they will rehydrate in the stock)
- Rock sugar - a good size chunk, at least two inches square
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Place the pork bones on a large baking sheet and pour over with oil. Scatter with salt and rub in thoroughly. Place the baking sheet in the oven and bake the bones for 45 minutes to 60 minutes, flipping over half way, to ensure the bones have a nice even char and browning, which contributes to flavor.
Toast the dry spices and aromatics until warm and fragrant.
Add the dry spices and the fresh aromatics into the pot, along with the duck or chicken feet, the roasted bones, and any dripping collected in the pan. Cover with water and add the seaweed, rice wine vinegar, Shaoxing wine, chili negros, and seaweed.
Bring up to a boil, skim off any foam that comes to the top of the liquid, and lower to a simmer. Cover. Simmer for 14 to 24 hours, topping up with liquid if the water ever drops below the level of the bones.
Strain and use immediately or jar for later use.
Braised Golden Tile Fish with Lotus Root and Tree Ears Mushrooms
- One golden tilefish - whole, gutted and descaled and cleaned
- Ginger - two to three inch piece, sliced
- Galangal - one to two inch piece, sliced
- Turmeric - a one to two inch piece, sliced
- Garlic - four to six cloves, smashed and sliced
- Scallions - two to three stalks, whole, chopped, sliced, or tied in a pretty knot (or not, as the case may be, because they will not always consent to be tied)
- Rice wine vinegar - a generous drizzle
- Sesame oil - a generous drizzle
- Shaoxing cooking wine - a generous drizzle
- Dark soy sauce - a generous drizzle
- Chili negro - one to two chilis, torn and presoaked to rehydrate
- Lotus root - one large segment, peeled, rinsed, and sliced into ¼ to ½ inch thick slices
- Steamed rice
- Tree ear fungus or other mushrooms, fresh or rehydrated - optional
- Chilis preserved in vinegar - optional
- Chilis and garlic preserved in sesame oil - optional
For the topping for the golden tilefish:
- Lime - one to two, depending on desired sourness
- Scallions - two to three stalks, sliced
- Cilantro/coriander greens - a bunch, sliced
- Chili negro - one to two chilis, torn and presoaked to rehydrate, minced into a paste, depending on desired spiciness
- Dark soy sauce - one to two tablespoons, depending on desired level of saltiness
- Rice wine vinegar - one to two tablespoons, depending on desired sourness
- Sesame oil - one to two tablespoons, depending on desired nuttiness
- Shaoxing cooking wine - one to two tablespoons - it is salty, vinegary, spicy, and caramel-like, so adjust depending on desired level of… that
- Fish sauce - one to two tablespoons, depending on desired level of umami
- Sugar - one to two tablespoons, depending on desired sweetness
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Slice the aromatics - ginger, galangal, turmeric, garlic, scallions. Place the tilefish into a braising dish and top with the aromatics. Generously drizzle with rice wine vinegar, sesame oil, Shaoxing cooking wine, dark soy sauce. Top with sliced chili negro. Rub into the fish, stuffing some of the aromatics into the side cavity as well.
Bake, covered, for approximately 20 minutes, until almost cooked through.
Mix the topping while the fish bakes.
Add the sliced lotus root and pour over with some of the topping. Bake a further 5 to 10 minutes, until the fish is cooked through and flakes easily with a fork and the lotus is fork tender.
Serve over rice drizzled with more topping. Add optional mushrooms and additional chili toppings, if desired.
Thom Yum Style Thai Fish Stock
- Fish bones
- Lime peel - one whole fresh peel
- Lemongrass - one stalk, bruised and chopped into large pieces
- Ginger - one to two inch chunk, sliced
- Galangal - one to two inch chunk, sliced
- Garlic - half a head, smashed and peeled
- Bird’s eye chili peppers - ten to fifteen, depending on desired level of spiciness
- Coriander seed - one to two tablespoons
- Orange peel - a small handful, three to four peels
- Makrut lime leaves - a large handful
Put the fish into a pot large enough to hold it. Add the aromatics and seasoning. Cover with water. Cook for 2 ½ to 3 hours. Strain. Jar or use immediately.
This stock is best used to make a Thom Yum style soup, with lots of chilis and coconut milk.
Chong Qing Style Pork Noodle Soup with Mustard and Sunflower Greens
- Chong Qing Style Bone Broth
- Hsuji peanuts - one to two cups
- Lime juice - approximately two tablespoons of juice
- Chilis and garlic preserved in sesame oil - one to two tablespoons, depending on desired level of spiciness
- Chilis and garlic preserved in vinegar - one to two tablespoons, depending on desired level of spiciness
- Tianjin chili flakes - one to two tablespoons, depending on desired level of spiciness
- Sugar -two tablespoons
- Fish sauce - one to two tablespoons, depending on desired level of umami
- Rice wine vinegar - one to two tablespoons, depending on desired level of sourness
- Dark soy sauce - one to two tablespoons, depending on desired level of saltiness
- Prickly ash - two tablespoons
- Green peppercorns - two tablespoons
- Pork shoulder - two to three pounds
- Beef tallow or lard
- Lotus root - one segment, peeled and rinsed, chopped into ¼ to ½ inch segments - optional
- Greens - we used fresh mustard and sunflower greens from our garden, but any greens would do, including bok choy or pea greens
- Preserved salted mustard greens - an entire head
- Hand pulled Chongqing style noodles - enough for each portion
- Scallions - one to two stalks, minced
- Garlic chives - two to four stalks, minced
- Cilantro/coriander greens - a bunch, minced
- Tree ear fungus - fresh or rehydrated - optional
Rinse any greens being placed in the soup.
Heat the bone broth (optionally combining with leftover Silkie chicken stock, as we did, for additional health benefits and flavor. This is not necessary.)
Toast the peanuts over low heat until blackened and fragrant, then use either place in a fabric towel and roll them around in the towel to remove the skins or put into a rough mortar and pestle to remove the skins. Once the skins are removed, either use a food processor or a mortar and pestle to grind them to finer chunks.
Combine the lime juice, the chilis and garlic preserved in sesame oil, the chilis and garlic preserved in vinegar, the Tianjin chili flakes, the sugar, the fish sauce, the rice wine vinegar, and the dark soy sauce in a bowl.
Grind or chop and pound the pork shoulder into a fine mince.
Combine the prickly ash and green peppercorns and, using either a dedicated spice grinder or mortar and pestle, grind together into a fine powder.
Pour several tablespoons of the mixture of lime juice, preserved chilis and garlic, sugar, etc over the minced pork and mix it thoroughly.
Brown the pork mixture over high heat until crispy on the outside, but still pink in the middle. Add the meat to the hot bone broth. Add the optional lotus root to the bone broth, if using. If using sunflower greens, or any greens that take longer to wilt such as fully grown bok choy, add these to the stock as well.
Chop the salt preserved mustard greens into fine pieces. Combine the salt preserved mustard greens with the peanuts, the finely powdered prickly ash and green peppercorn, and several tablespoons of the mixture of lime, preserved chilis and garlic, etc. Heat these all together in a few tablespoons of the tallow or yard in the pan the pork was cooked in until fragrant and warm smelling. This is the basis for each bowl of soup.
Cook the noodles according to the package directions, generally in boiling water, separate from the soup, and strain.
In each bowl, put a few tablespoons of the salted mustard green and peanut topping, then a few more tablespoons of the liquid mixture made from the lime and preserved chilis and garlic, etc., and (optionally, if you like it as spicy as I do) even more chilis and garlic preserved in oil or vinegar. Put noodles on top of the topping and chilis.
Ladle in the stock with the pork and the optional lotus root.
Add greens, scallions, garlic chives, and cilantro/coriander, to taste. Optionally, add some leftover Silkie chicken, if you made the other recipe.
Mix and eat.
Lastly, as a bonus, here’s a few pictures of the Shrimp Thom Yum Soup that we made with the Thom Yum Style Thai Fish Stock.