Citizens, a good Basic Chicken Stock is essential in the Chinese kitchen – but for very special soups and other banquet-quality dishes (Shark’s–fin soup, for instance), a very rich broth known as ‘Superior Stock’, or 上湯 (shàng tāng), is mandatory!
A Superior Stock is prepared using chicken, pork and ham, very often the prized Chinese ham known as ‘Jinhua ham’. A select few other ingredients are used, ginger and scallion usually, but not much else in the way of other vegetables are added. It is a very rich and complex preparation and can make all the difference between a good dish and one that is beyond memorable!
Given the absence of Jinhua Ham in the U.S., Smithfield Ham is often used as an especially good substitute. For pork, meat on the bone is preferred and, for additional flavor and a gelatinous quality to the finished product, it is a good idea to use pork hocks with the skin on as part of this component.
Dark, rather than white chicken meat tends to give better flavor and, again to produce a good, rich mouth-feel to your broth, TFD prefers to add chicken feet, which are the highly-recommended secret to your grandmother’s best soup recipe!
A necessity in the classic Chinese recipe canon, few ingredients add as prized a flavor and mouth-feel as Superior Stock. It is prized throughout the length and breadth of China, from the eastern regions of Shanghai and Fujian (which is the region most renowned for its soups) to the far West in Sichuan and Hunan and is always to be found on the finest tables in the land.
I hope you will take it upon yourselves to try this fantastic recipe at least once, Citizens! :D
Battle on – The Generalissimo