Posted November 15, 2010on:
I used to be a purist cook many moons ago with the belief that I must master the fundamentals in order to become a better cook. So I would labor for hours doing really tedious things that purist cooks have outlined for various dishes, especially noodle stocks. Take bu’n bo`, the Vietnamese spicy beef noodle soup hailed from the central region of Hue. I made quite a few “purist” versions, including one that required me to simmer the marrow bones for hours like pho, then bind the shanks prior to cooking, etc., etc.. Through it all, I have learned quite a few things, one of them being “hmm… the stock is still missing some umph.” Like it would taste good, but the drool factor was missing. Only twice did I make really awesome drools-worthy stocks, and both of those times were when I didn’t have all the necessary ingredients or extra energy to be meticulous. The current pot of stock I have in my fridge is one of the two. To begin with, I couldn’t get a banana shank. Technically I could drive to Lancaster to grab one. But I didn’t feel like driving there just for that, so I went to the butcher shop and got their “soup bones” which have some shanks attached, but not the whole boneless shanks. Oh well, whatever. I got a big honking block of it, lugged it home, and between that pot of bu’n bo` and the neighboring pot of Pho i was making, I got enough stuffs to make the stock substantial.
While cooking, I was about to throw away some daikon that had been simmering in chicken broth when I thought, oh well, what the heck, and tossed those daikons into the bu’n bo` stockpot. Then a few charred onions, some beef brisket found in the freezer… I don’t remember what else I threw in there, with the lemongrass being the final addition. In the end, the stock came out great.
Maybe next time I should just scrap the purist idea and save myself some money and energy.