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Chinese soup stock

I've been meaning to experiment with Chinese clear broth soups for a while, but I get intimidated with the idea of making my own stock.

For western cooking, I sometimes make my own chicken stock, but when I'm in a hurry, I compromise on store-bought chicken stock sold in a package. I am wondering if there is an equivalent in Chinese cooking. I am assuming that using western chicken stock for Chinese soup wouldn't result in the right flavors...

So my questions:

- Is there a pre-packaged Chinese meat stock that I can use for Chinese soups? If so, do you have a favorite brand?

- Do you find that the pre-packaged version is a good compromise? Or do you think that it's so far inferior to home made stock that it's not even worth using?

Thanks in advance!

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  1. Actually many Chinese do just use the off-the-shelves chicken stock from supermarket. Sure, it is not as good as home made ones, but the point is that it is completely acceptable. If you ever go to a Chinese/Asian supermarket, you will see them sell these Campbell chicken broth, Swanson chicken broth... etc. In fact, you will see many chicken favor cubes like Maggi Chicken bouillon cubes. I don't like these cubes.

    I say it is a good compromise to use package chicken broth..

    1. I might be wrong, but I doubt that Chinese chickens or broth-making procedures are so very different from Western ones, but you could check at an Asian grocer.

      As for question 2: home-made broths/stocks are generally better, but commercial ones are good to have around and useful. Swanson's organic and low-sodium broths get good reviews, and also the "Better than Bullion" brand, which is a paste that you reconstitute into water to make a broth.

      1. Thanks for the replies! I usually use the Whole Foods packaged chicken broth, but I heard good things about the "better than bouillon" too. I've been meaning to give that a try. And it's good to know I can use it for Chinese cooking too! :)

        2 Replies
        1. re: ethnicchower

          There's absolutely NOTHING wrong with using packaged stock/broth. Just find one with a basic flavor you like. Then simmer it with some garlic, scallions, & a few slices of fresh ginger to give it that "Chinese/Asian" flavor.

          When I make Chinese chicken stock myself at home, I use the same flavorings. I put my raw chicken parts in water to cover (sometimes with some canned/packaged chicken broth for extra flavor), then add scallions, garlic, & sliced ginger. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, & about an hour later strain everything (saving the chicken for either salad for me or snacks for the pets), & reduce the broth at a simmer until it's at a strength I like.

          1. re: Breezychow

            This is exactly what I do when I want an Asian flavoured stock, but short on time.

        2. Whole Foods organic chicken broth is fine fine too.

          But if you have the time to make your own stock, you can always use a whole mature chicken, smoked ham hocks (some Chinese supermarkets might have Virginia Ham, although it is not the same as Chinese ham), lean pork (and/or pork bones). Bring to a boil and then simmer for at least 3 hours, strain the oil (and solids) and the resultant stock can be used for anything. This is more of a Cantonese approach.

          1. My stock only has chicken parts in it, feet and backs. No seasonings. That way I can take it any direction I want.

            3 Replies
            1. re: bobcam90

              That's an interesting approach. So you don't even add onion or carrot to it?

              1. re: bobcam90

                That's all well & good, & how I myself make basic chicken stock. But the OP is asking specifically for CHINESE CHICKEN STOCK, which does, authentically, add seasonings. Ask any Chinatown cook or consult any authentic Chinese cookbook.

                1. re: Breezychow

                  I make several gallons at a time and freeze in two cup portions. If I'm making an Asian dish I can add the seasonings then. A number of Asian CHs do the same. I just copied them.