Saturday, August 4, 2012

Chinese Pork Broth with Black-Eyed Peas and Bean Curd Skin (Mei Dou Fu Jok Jeu Gwat Tong)

~Growing up in my parents’ home, we always ended the meal with soup. Or what our Western neighbors would call “broth”. The broth was always meat based; usually pork or chicken, with a either vegetables or a variety of Chinese “herbs”. These were technically not always herbs, but dried ingredients which served medicinal and nutritional purposes. How- I have no idea. You will have to ask someone more Chinese than I. I just eat it =)

There are two schools of thought in preparing a meat based broth. The first method is to skim; skim like the dickens. Using meat and bones for a broth will release a good amount of scum from the meat’s oil and blood. However, you may have to spend hours before the broth is completely clear. The second method is gaining wide popularity amongst Western cooks as well. Set the meat/bones to boil on high heat for about 5-10min, then dump out the water and rinse off the meat. Then throw the meat/bones back in with more water.

I have tried both and neither truly guarantees a scum-free broth; or else sacrifices a good amount of flavor. Therefore, I devised a third method; utilizing cheese cloth. I have found that this method yields optimal flavor and a truly clear broth. It’s honestly so easy and simple, I have no idea why I have never seen anyone else make note of it before.

Special Equipment:
2- 8qt stock pots
large colander that fits over pot
cheese cloth

1lb pork neck bones
1lb pork knuckle bones
4 large carrots
¾ cup dried black eyed peas
1 piece dried tangerine peel (approx 1” in diameter)
1 tsp sea salt

  1. Fill one pot with cold water and soak bean curd skin for about 45min-1hr. Don’t worry if bean curd skin has not softened all the way; it is going into the broth for cooking. Once softened, break into 2” pieces. Squeeze out any excess water and set aside. Rinse stock pot and set aside for future use.
  2. Soak shiitake mushrooms in cold water for 45min-1hr. Remove stem, set aside.
  3. Soak black eyed peas for 15min. Drain and set aside.
  4. Peel carrots and cut into 2” pieces. Set aside.
  5. Rinse all meat in cold water briefly to clean off any bone chips.
  6. Fill second pot ¾ way with cold water and add meat/bones. Set on high heat and let boil for about 15min. Lower heat to medium and let simmer for 1hr.
  7. Line the colander with cheese cloth and place over second empty stock pot. Set on a lower surface such as sink.
  8. Carefully carry boiling stock pot and slowly pour contents through cheese clothed colander into empty stock pot.
  9. Set colander aside with meat and bones. Rinse each piece of meat and bone carefully under cold water; be sure to rinse off all the “scum” thoroughly.
  10. Skim the now “clean” broth for any excess oil. Return cleaned meat and bone pieces to the broth and set on low heat.
  11. Add salt, carrots, tangerine peel, peas, and bean curd skin. Cover and simmer for 30-45min.
  12. Taste and add more salt if necessary. 

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