July 16, 2016 by Dan
Bone stock is one of the most important components of any meat-based soup and a special flavor enhancer for many other recipes. It’s also generically referred to as ‘stock’ in this blog, many cookbooks, and likely a good number of your most cherished family recipes. Unfortunately, most processed stock sold in stores contains allergens such as dairy or gluten or is made on lines and in plants that process undisclosed allergens. Therefore, making stock at home is crucial when trying to avoid allergens like we are. Luckily for us – and you – it’s also one of the easiest recipes possible, on par with white rice. At its most basic you simmer bones and aromatics in water for a long while.
Note that stock and broth are commonly used interchangeably although technically not the same thing. Stock is liquid without solids and usually made from cooking bones and other cuttings. Broth is made from (and usually includes) meat.
I always begin this recipe with fresh bones from a full service butcher, usually at one of the local Chinese markets here in Los Angeles. I also buy organic bones from Whole Foods when I can get them (otherwise it isn’t worth the extra cost: $0.99 versus $5.99 per pound).
I mostly use beef or pork for stock although you can use bones from any other animal you might eat such as venison or chicken. One other benefit of Chinese markets is that they usually sell de-boned chickens and sometimes have bones for less common animals (though I’ve yet to take advantage).
The best pork or beef bones to use are the long leg bones. You’ll find these bones advertised alternatively as “soup bones,” “marrow bones,” or sometimes simply “bones.” Shank pieces are also good to use when they’re mostly bone (the downside is that shank is usually more expensive). These leg bones pack in the greatest flavor per pound, which I attribute to marrow. This soft sponge-like tissue at the center of bones is where stem cells develop into blood cells. It’s also mostly (~80%) fat and gives credence to Julia Child saying “fat gives things flavor.” That said, I do remove most of the fat as you’ll see in the recipe below.
Here’s my basic stock recipe using a 6 qt (5.7 L) slow cooker. Try it then experiment to your heart’s delight with other aromatics that appeal to you.
Difficulty Level: super easy
Prep Time: 15 to 20 minutes
Cooking Time: 10 to 12 hours (in a slow cooker)
Makes about 2.75 quarts stock
Ingredients (and our sources)
- 2 to 4 lbs (1 to 2 kg) Marrow bones (fresh from the local full service butcher)
- 1 whole onion (local farmers market)
- black pepper (McCormick)
- 3 tablespoons fish sauce (Squid Brand)
- 2 bay leaves (McCormick)
- 1 inch piece ginger, sliced (local farmers market)
- 4 to 5 cloves garlic (local farmers market)
- Combine the bones and all dry ingredients in the slow cooker
- Add water to fill the remainder of the pot
- Cook on low for about 10 to 12 hours
- Strain the liquid (your stock) into a large metal or glass bowl
- Side note: Most bones come with meat or tendon still attached – see the photo, below – so pick out any edible parts to eat. You can put them into a soup or add to rice or other grains for a quick meal.
- When the stock container is warm to the touch cover the container and put it in the fridge overnight
As it cools, fat will rise to the surface and coagulate while the stock itself will become a semi-solid gelatin (think meat jello). The next day, you’ll be able to remove and discard a thick layer of fat from the top of your gelatinous stock, shown below (yes, that thick white sheet is fat). The gelatin will melt back into a liquid when heated.
- Soup base
- Substitute for half the water in grain recipes such as rice or quinoa.
- Stock takes very little effort or time to process despite the length of time from start to finish. Most time is spent doing other things – such as work or sleep – as the stock cooks or sets. I make stock regularly enough that I often – though it never seems often enough – have stock in the back of the fridge to use when needed.
- I don’t add salt to my recipe. The fish sauce is salty enough. You can substitute sea salt for fish sauce in the recipe.
- Stock isn’t intended as a stand-alone soup. In fact it will probably be bland, one-dimensional, and perhaps a bit tasteless.
- The fat layer will help preserve your stock gelatin, so leave it on top if you don’t need the stock for a few days.
- Stock is one of the most flexible recipes I know, so feel free to substitute other aromatics.
- When I have a particular soup in mind I’ll add the aromatics for that soup into the slow cooker for the stock. That is, when the aromatics can be cooked a long while. Some aromatics like cilantro or basil go in at the very end, just before serving. For example, I cut out a step in a recipe for Chinese beef stew by adding about 5 or 6 star anise pods (I’ll eventually post that recipe).
- Fresh bones from a full service butcher are best. I like to buy from the local Chinese supermarkets that have a full service counter, but will buy organic when I can get them from other sources such as Whole Foods.
- Organic is important and worth the extra cost because many of the toxins from pesticides are concentrated in fat.
- If you’re in Los Angeles, Shun Fat Supermarket in Monterey Park and Hawaii Supermarket in San Gabriel are my go-to markets.
- The Glendale Whole Foods regularly stocks organic marrow bones because it serves a thriving immigrant population from Armenia, Eastern Europe, and Korea who provide sufficient demand. It also regularly sells other meats such as cow tongue and organic beef liver I rarely see elsewhere. I haven’t had as much luck at other Whole Foods in the area.
Category basics, Ingredients, Recipes | Tags: beef,dairy-free,easy recipe,egg-free,gluten-free,ingredients,pork,recipe,sesame-free | No Comments
June 23, 2016 by Dan
Fish sauce gives a savory boost – some people call it ‘umami’ – to a lot of foods. Squid Brand is a bold-flavored Thai-style fish sauce that has become our go-to for most recipes (excluding dipping sauces) that call for fish sauce. I’m also prone to drizzle some into recipes in lieu of salt when experience says the flavors match.
Unlike some other brands of fish sauce, Squid Brand only contains three ingredients: anchovy extract, salt, sugar, and water. It doesn’t have any additional MSG or preservatives. And – even more importantly – in our experience it is safe for our little Sprout (i.e. it’s gluten-free, dairy-free, egg-free, and sesame-free).
We use it for Vietnamese and Thai recipes that call for fish sauce – naturally. We also like to substitute fish sauce in place of salt in many dishes that need an extra oomph. I often drizzle a bit into stir fry recipes, and have used it 50/50 with tamari (a gluten-free soy sauce) in a modified 3-2-1 marinade (3 parts sake, 1 part tamari, 1 part fish sauce, and 1 part sugar).
We also put Squid Brand in any recipe that calls for Worcestershire sauce, which is actually a British version of fish sauce. As an aside, we found out about this substitution while trying to find a Sprout-safe Worcestershire sauce in 2009. At the time, Heinz – owner of Lea & Perrins – refused to tell us anything about its products beyond saying it would only disclose whether the product includes the top 8 allergens. In fact, Heinz is by far the most frustrating company to deal with in our quest to find safe foods. Unlike other companies Heinz (a) wouldn’t tell us if Lea & Perrins or its other products contains sesame (despite it being required to make such disclosure in other countries where those products are sold); (b) tell us if the product is produced in a facility that processes other allergens on our list; or (c) disclose any detail about its hygiene practices when switching a line between products. Forget even getting them to rule out sesame or gluten from ‘natural flavorings.’ Needless to say we avoid Heinz products and use Squid Brand Fish Sauce instead of Worcestershire sauce.
Where to buy
Squid Brand is generally available in Chinese markets in Los Angeles. In the San Gabriel Valley I’ve also seen it a few Ralph’s supermarkets.
If you’re outside Los Angeles, check with a local Asian market close to where you live. It’s one of the most common brands sold, so may be available. You can also buy online at some online Asian markets such as ImportFoods.com.
Category Ingredients | Tags: dairy-free,egg-free,gluten-free,in our pantry,ingredients | No Comments
August 1, 2012 by brett
Of all the various Asian fried rolls I’ve ever eaten, cha gio is the best in terms of taste and texture, hands down. There is just something serendipitous about the interplay between the flavors of the filling ingredients: the taro, the freshly ground pepper, the fish sauce, and of course, the pork and shrimp. Texture-wise, the wood-ear mushrooms, bean thread, and rice paper wrappers enhance the roll greatly, making each bite stimulating and fun.
The chewy-crisp exterior of these rolls pairs well with the fresh green, raw lettuce leaf and herbs commonly used to wrap these rolls. Typically, folks will dip the raw veggie/herb enveloped roll into a small bowl of nuoc cham, a Vietnamese fish sauce-based dipping sauce, just before taking a bite. The contrasts between hot fried and cool/crisp raw, between hearty and refreshingly light, cannot help but delight the senses and inspire second (eh, why stop at second?) helpings. (more…)
Category Recipes, side dish, snacks | Tags: dairy-free,egg-free,gluten-free,nut-free,peanut-free,pork,sesame-free,soy-free,treenut-free | 4 Comments
August 1, 2012 by brett
This ubiquitous, must-have sauce unifies the different flavors in many a Vietnamese dish and makes the entire composition come together and “pop.” Nuoc cham can effortlessly pull together a dish, making it a godsend for anyone looking to get breakfast/lunch/dinner on the table ASAP. I have a small airtight container of this stuff in my fridge at all times.
I generally serve this alongside cha gio (Vietnamese fried rolls) and drizzled over a haphazardly put together bun bowl – cooked rice vermicelli, raw, shredded lettuce, raw, julienned cucumbers, slices of pan-seared tofu or any cooked chicken/pork/beef/shrimp/fish, plus a sprinkling of fresh mint and Thai/Asian basil leaves.
Nuoc cham is also a wonderful accompaniment to non-Viet-style dishes as well. I’ve drizzled it on corn tortillas filled with grilled fish, Viet-style pickles, julienned cucumbers, and a few springs of cilantro, and the result was tasty. Nation borders are but lines on a map; in the mouth and stomach, they don’t exist. (more…)
Category basics, easy | Tags: corn-free,dairy-free,egg-free,fish sauce,gluten-free,nut-free,peanut-free,sesame-free,soy-free,treenut-free | 1 Comment
June 25, 2012 by brett
I sometimes forget that not everyone grew up eating this kind of yummy food. For the record, “Lung Kow” is not a brand name. This term, like “vermicelli,” describes this type of fine, yet resilient, noodle. Bean thread noodles, lung kow noodles, cellophane noodles, glass noodles, and vermicelli are often used interchangeably when describing this kind of food product. It’s primarily made of starch.
The package of Pagoda brand bean thread noodles pictured above has the following ingredients listed on the package: pea(mung bean) starch, corn starch, water. As far as allergens go, my son has eaten these noodles many times for more than a year, and he has never had a reaction to them. He is extremely allergic to wheat and all forms of gluten (wheat, rye, barley, oats), dairy, egg, tree nuts (except for coconut), peanuts, and sesame. (YMMV.)
Bean thread noodles are wonderful in stir fries. They’re also nice in soupy/stewy dishes, and they make a great filler ingredient for dumplings and fried rolls. Bean thread noodles, which can soak up a lot of liquid (commonly vegetable or chicken stock when added to stir fries), adopt and intensify the flavors of the dish easily, making the bean thread noodles quite tasty.
Made correctly, these fine noodles can be addictive. They have a wonderful mouth feel: chewy, bouncy, happy-go-lucky. They soak up flavorful broth like mad and add substance to a dish without weighing down the dish. Even though they’re made primarily of starch, they don’t feel starchy at all, and you’re definitely not feeling weighed down by carb overload after a meal of these noodles. Go figure, eh? (more…)
Category Ingredients | Tags: chinese,dairy-free,egg-free,fish-free,gluten-free,in our pantry,noodles,nut-free,pantry,peanut-free,sesame-free,shellfish-free,soy-free,treenut-free,vegan,vegetarian | 1 Comment
June 21, 2012 by brett
Flatbread plays an extremely important role in the cuisine’s of most cultures around the world. It is the building block, the basis, of many a meal worldwide. Flatbread fills the belly, nourishes the body, and feels good in mouth and hand in all its soft/chewy/crispy/crunchy glory. It can be eaten alone (it’s so convenient on the go — a great stroller snack), or it can accompany stews, curries, meats, veggies — whatever you like. Flatbread is like rice, the perfect white shirt, and the name Michael*: It goes with everything.
Category baked goods, breads, easy, Recipes, side dish, snacks, starch | Tags: baked,bob's red mill,bread,dairy-free,egg-free,erawan,fingerfood,fish-free,gluten-free,glutinous rice flour,nut-free,peanut-free,quick,rice flour,sesame-free,shellfish-free,snack,soy-free,treenut-free,vegan,vegetarian | 1 Comment
June 14, 2012 by brett
This was my son’s birthday cake this year. I was so happy he loved it!!! 🙂
An old-fashioned term, “spider” refers to a cast iron skillet, which I use to make this cake; spiders are not an ingredient. 🙂 Pineapple Upside Down Cake is probably one of the best known spider cakes baked today.
The use of vinegar and baking soda to provide the acid/basic-inspired rise of the cake, and the oddball directions to add liquid ingredients into three “troughs” or indentations in the dry mixture, followed by pouring water all over the top, provide unmistakable clues to the ancestry of this cake. This cake is a gluten- and allergen-free descendent of an American classic known by many names: Crazy Cake, Wacky Cake, Oil and Vinegar Cake.
Typically, Crazy Cake is made in an 8″ or 9″ square pan, though I’ve seen it doubled into a 9″ x 13″ sheet cake creation as well. In the past, I’ve made my own gluten- and allergen-free version in a 5″x7″ Pyrex baking dish. (To see a lemon version, check out Lemon Craze.)
Category baked goods, dessert, easy, Recipes, snacks | Tags: allergen-free,baked,bob's red mill,cake,dairy-free,dessert,egg-free,erawan,fingerfood,fish-free,gluten-free,grains,nut-free,peanut-free,quick,rice flour,sesame-free,shellfish-free,snack,soy-free,treenut-free,vegan,vegetarian | No Comments
May 10, 2012 by brett
Some days are meant for sitting on the sofa and eating bon bons. While I admit bon bons are incredibly tasty (I had them just once and even made it a point to sit on the sofa while eating them), more often than not, I’ll make jun jiu kao when I’m in need of a comfort food fix.
Jun jiu kao, or pearl balls, are savory steamed pork meatballs coated with a layer of glutinous rice (rest assured, it’s gluten-free) that is chewy and satisfying. These tasty mouthfuls are also a nice dumpling-type alternative when I want a dumpling but don’t feel like rolling out wrappers. Jun jiu kao are easy to make, easy to make ahead, and easy to reheat. They are great eaten hot, warm, or at room temperature. They’re not too shabby straight out of the fridge, too! Pearl balls make a great snack but can also be served as part of a larger meal. They make for popular party finger food as well. (more…)
Category easy, main dish, Recipes, side dish, snacks | Tags: dairy-free,egg-free,fish-free,gluten-free,gluten-free soy sauce,glutinous rice flour,koda farms,nut-free,peanut-free,pork,rice flour,sesame-free,shellfish-free,treenut-free | 1 Comment
May 3, 2012 by brett
Yup, you read right — gumbo with tofu. Now before ya’ll get started with me, let me start off by saying that if you’re allergic to soy, if tofu isn’t your thing, or if you believe in all that crazy hype about soy being bad for you, please, by all means, leave out the tofu. The gumbo will be just as tasty, though it will miss the added textural dimension and surprising “pops” of flavor provided by the deep-fried tofu, which soaks up the savory broth like nobody’s business.
OK. Who’s still with me? (more…)
Category main dish, Recipes | Tags: dairy-free,egg-free,fish-free,gluten-free,nut-free,peanut-free,sesame-free,shellfish-free,soy-free,treenut-free | 2 Comments
April 29, 2012 by brett
Every gluten-free cook has his or her signature bread recipe. This is mine.
A derivation of Neat Bread, Hippo Bread is superior in terms of texture, taste, and appearance thanks to its key ingredient, plain, homemade soy milk. Homemade soy milk acts as a binder, tenderizes the loaf’s crumb, adds a creaminess to the flavor, and imparts an attractive, slightly golden hue.
Category baked goods, basics, breads, Recipes, side dish, snacks, starch | Tags: baked,bob's red mill,bread,corn-free,dairy-free,egg-free,erawan,fish-free,gluten-free,glutinous rice flour,nut-free,peanut-free,rice flour,sesame-free,shellfish-free,snack,treenut-free,vegan,vegetarian | 4 Comments