Guest post #2….. Cooking with Sumo

once again our very own SUMO

 

Cook (soup stock) With Sumo

When I was a kid, my mother would crack open a can of soup, dump it into a pot on the stove, and a few minutes later, would slop it into a bowl and scream at me to sit my ass down at the table and eat. At the time, I couldn’t articulate why I found the prospect of eating soup disturbing, I just knew that I didn’t like it. At all.

 
Once I hit my teenage years, and started to learn how to cook, I realized that my mother didn’t know shit about food. Still doesn’t, to this day. This is a woman who thinks that it’s perfectly acceptable to throw a half frozen roast of beef in the oven, then serve the overcooked, dry chunk of leather to people.

 
In any case, my mother’s deplorable lack of culinary skill isn’t important; what is important is the fact that I eventually learned that soup , when done properly, is a delicious, beautiful, satisfying meal that contains a multitude of flavors and textures.

 
Different varieties of soup will naturally require different techniques in order to execute, but they all share one thing in common – the base. Whether you’re making beef, chicken, pork, fish, or vegetable soup, you need to start with stock. Or possibly broth. Sometimes the terms are used interchangeably, but there is a small difference between the two. Soup stock is made with bones, which contain collagen, while broth is made from various cuts of meat, which does not contain collagen. The collagen provides stock with a gelatinous quality that makes it more desirable for deglazing pans, while broth is normally utilized for light soups and recipes that require a lighter flavor.

 
How does one decide which to use? Well….unless you’re working in a high end restaurant where attention to minute details is paramount, or you’re a hardcore foodie (I hate that word, BTW) who can be a little OCD when it comes to preparing meals, it doesn’t make that much of a difference. Given the choice, 9 times out of 10 I’m going to go with stock, simply because I view it as being less “wasteful” – throwing some bones into a pot then chucking them into the garbage a few hours later is preferable, in my opinion, to throwing meat away afterwards.
So, making stock – first, get yourself some bones. Beef, chicken, pork, whatever. Any decent butcher will sell you some for a reasonable price (under $2/lb, most places), and you can freeze any that you’re not going to use right away. Decide whether or not you want to roast the bones first. Roasting improves the flavor of the stock dramatically, but when it comes to lighter (chromatically speaking) stocks, such as chicken stock, some people dislike the color that result from doing so. Then choose a few vegetables to add. The “classic” French combination is carrots, celery, and onion, known as mire poix. If you’re making an Asian soup stock, you might need different veggies, but the principle is the same. You can add some herbs if you like, but when it comes to leafy herbs like parsley or cilantro, only use the stems, never the leaves. There are a couple of reasons for this; first, the stems actually have more flavor, and second, the leaves will become slimy and affect the end texture of the stock.

 
For making stock, you don’t need to know any fancy knife work, just chop the celery into chunks, peel the carrots and chop into similar chunks, and tear the little thready bits off the root of the onions. Cut the onions in half and throw them in the pot, skin and all. Leaving the onion skin on gives the stock a nice, golden color. If you haven’t added the bones to the pot yet, throw them in, then cover everything with enough water to cover the ingredients by about 2 inches. Fire up the burner, bring your stock to a simmer, and find something to do for the next few hours. Oh, and don’t add salt. Ever. I know this contradicts what I said in my last post, but never salt your stock, only add salt to your soup. This allows you to control the salt content in the finished product.

 
While everything so far has been fairly low-key, this next bit is important: DO NOT LET THE STOCK COME TO A BOIL!!!!!!! If it boils, your stock will be cloudy and visually unappealing. Skim off any scum that appears on the surface of the stock, and be patient. For chicken or fish stock, it should be ready in 3 or 4 hours; beef or veal stock may take quite a bit longer. The chefs I work with usually start making veal stock in the evening, and let it simmer overnight. Once you figure that it’s done, strain out all the solid bits, and if you don’t need it immediately, let it cool to room temperature, then pop it into the fridge. If you have room, just throw the whole pot in there. Eventually, the fat will rise to the top and solidify, then you can just peel it off. The stock can be frozen at this point for future use; either in containers or in ice cube trays. If using the trays, once the cubes are frozen, remove them and store in a freezer bag. If you have a recipe that calls for a tablespoon or two of stock, well…..there you be. No need to thaw out a large batch.

 
Well, that’s about all I can think of for the moment. While not terribly complicated, homemade stock is far superior to anything you can buy in a grocery store (although I do use those if I’m feeling lazy or I’m pressed for time), and will elevate your soup to a higher, and tastier, level.
To paraphrase (and blatantly plagerize) a friend, let those who have stomachs eat.

 

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15 thoughts on “Guest post #2….. Cooking with Sumo

  1. Liz

    This is really informative, Sumo! I didn’t know most of this…don’t let the stock boil? So THAT’s what I’ve always done wrong. I’ve always added salt, too. Very good tip.

    Mmm. I could go for some soup now. Haven’t made it in years. My mom used to make homemade chicken soup with stock and she did the bones, carrots, celery, and onion bit. I’d eat the carrots after they’d been boiling for hours. Always liked them that way, not sure why…the vitamins were probably all boiled out of them.

    Reply
  2. redpillgirlnotes

    Yum! I learned a lot from this, I didn’t know that about herb stems, for instance, but it makes perfect sense! Now I want to make some soup! Or go get some udon (the easy out!) Luckily I live in an area with an array of Asian soup spots from Japanese to Chinese to Korean to Thai, so awesome soups of all sorts are bubbling all around me. The perfect stock/soup base is indeed an art!

    Reply
    1. Sumo

      That’s only for leafy herbs, Bloomer. Something like thyme or oregano, just throw the whole thing in. For herbs with woody stems, like rosemary, pull the leaves off and chuck ’em in the pot, but throw the stem out. Or save it to use as a grilling skewer.

      Reply
    1. Sumo

      Hey TSK, thanks for the question.

      Bone broth is pretty much the same thing as stock, except that the bones are roasted first (which I alluded to above), and then the whole thing is simmered for a long period of time until all of the nutrients are leeched out of the bones. Usually, the bones get so depleted that they’ll actually crumble between your fingers.

      The example I gave in the original post about my mentors letting veal stock simmer overnight? Bone broth. I made a small error in the original post – the option of roasting bones prior to making stock is only applicable to chicken and fish bones. Beef, pork, and veal bones should always be roasted first, otherwise your stock/broth could develop a sour taste.

      So, making bone broth – rinse the bones with cold water and pat dry. Roast the bones for about an hour at 400 F until well browned. Drain off any fat. Place the bones in your pot, add the veggies (feel free to toss in some garlic and a couple of bay leaves), cover with water, and follow the directions above. You’re going to want to simmer for a LOOOOOOOONG time, up to 24 hours.

      Reply
      1. theshadowedknight

        Thanks. I did not know the bit about rinsing them or roasting them first. I will have to do that next time. I have made it before, but it did not turn out as well as I expected.

        The Shadowed Knight

      2. theshadowedknight

        Another question, this time about fat. What is the reason you drain the fat? Does simmering fat do something to the taste of the stock, or is it aesthetic preference?

        Same thing for the froth on top. As far as I know, that is proteins and amino acids. Do you remove it for aesthetic reasons, or for taste?

        The Shadowed Knight

      3. Sumo

        You drain the fat after roasting the bones so your stock doesn’t become a greasy mess. There will still be fat present, which will eventually accumulate on the top of the stock, and can then be peeled off. You can then either discard it, or save it to use in much the same manner as bacon grease. I would suggest leaving it if you’re storing the stock in the fridge, as it will act as a seal and the stock will keep longer.

        The froth on top is denatured protein, mostly comprising the same proteins that make up egg whites. It is harmless and flavorless, but visually unappealing. Eventually, the foam will break up into microscopic particles and disperse into your stock, leaving it grayish and cloudy.

  3. redpillgirlnotes

    Just noticed the let those who have stomachs eat bit, lol! Clever, I missed that before! I made beef stew tonight, not really “soup” but it was pretty good if I do say so myself! Cheers!

    Reply
  4. BuenaVista

    We had some dialogue directed by you on poached eggs.

    I’m going to try this approach, my success rate with plastic wrap is 50%. It seems plausible.

    Reply
  5. lance roll

    I’ll tell you that how to make cooking with sumo, 3 pounds chicken bones
    1 clove garlic
    2 tablespoon Soy sauce
    2 tablespoon mirin
    Salt to taste
    2 inch piece of daikon—peeled, cut into bite-sized pieces and blanched
    1 large waxy potato, cut into bite-sized pieces and blanched
    1 carrot, peeled and sliced into bias rounds
    1/2 head Napa cabbage, cored and cut into large pieces
    6 shiitake mushrooms, trimmed and stemmed
    1/2 pound deboned chicken thighs, cut into strips
    1/2 bunch chrysanthemum greens or other bright tender green, trimmed
    1/2 pound thinly sliced top or bottom round beef
    1 pound udon noodles,Add soy sauce and mirin to the stock, season with salt to taste and bring to medium simmer. Add the vegetables and soften for 2 minutes. Add chicken thighs and cook for 5 minutes. Add beef and cook for a few more minutes,Once all the meat and vegetables have been consumed and all that is left is broth, add the udon noodles, cook for about 5 minutes and serve.nd enjoy

    Reply

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