Have you ever walked in the aisle of your local supermarket, looking at the stock bricks and wondering: “How satisfying would it be to make my very own stock?”
Stocks are the building blocks of flavour in most cases, and if done right you are guaranteed to add more depth and flavour to a dish: it brings personality to your Risotto, your Laksa, Ramen bowl, your gravy, your bolognese sauce, and much, much more. … And did we mention that it will help you reduce food waste?
There are millions of recipes, and variations are endless, so it’s no surprise that it can be confusing, and intimidating to get started with your own Stock.
Rest assured, we have provided you with some guidance to help you demystify stock and we looked at 4 basics types of stocks you are most likely to encounter.
A vegetable, a fish, a chicken and a beef one. Our aim is to get you comfortable with the basics first, then you can put your own twist, start experimenting, and eventually make it your own: Let’s dive into the wonderful culinary world of stocks, shall we?
A flavoursome vegetable stock can enhance any dish and only requires a few simple ingredients. It’s the easiest stock you can make, and can be done in no time.
What are the most common uses for vegetable stock?
For a flavourful vegetable stock include vegetables such as:
- A liquid to deglaze your pan
How long does it take to make vegetable stock?
- Parsley & Thyme & Bay Leaves
- Whole peppercorns
It usually takes 30 minutes once you bring down your stock from a boil to simmer. While a timer is useful, we encourage you to taste and check the colour of your stock. Both are the true indicators of whether your stock is ready or not. Is the colour of your stock transparent or is it light green/yellow? Does your stock taste like water or can you taste the vegetables?
- Make sure you wash the vegetables thoroughly before placing them in the stock pot
- Chop the vegetables in a consistent size, not too small, not too big. The more surfaces of the vegetables are exposed, the better
- Always start your stock with cold water
- If you use celery or fennel in your stock, avoid leafy parts as they bring a slight bitterness to your stock
Before you throw out those fish scraps, consider making a fish stock. Fish stock is very versatile and can be used in a range of seafood dishes.
What fish should I use for fish stock?
Fish bones and heads of cod, bass and flathead work best. You don’t want to use a fish that’s too fatty as this can make your stock very rich and overpowering
What other ingredients should I use?
Our favourite uses for fish stock include:
- Parsley & Thyme & Bay Leaves
- Whole peppercorns
How long does fish stock need to simmer/cook?
- Fish stews
- Fish pie
Unlike meat and poultry based stocks, fish stock only requires a short amount of simmering: Once your stock is brought to a boil, bring it to a simmer and let it run for 30 minutes. Again, taste and check the colour of your stock – these are your best indicators.
- Some recipes will require you to pan-fry the fish carcass first, but in any case, always fill your pot with cold water
- Avoid carrots in the making of your carrots
This is one of the most popular stocks used for a range of dishes as it can add a powerful flavour punch and set the tone for the final product.
What are the most common uses for chicken stock?
The key to making a great chicken stock is having the right blend of:
- Braising meats
How long does chicken stock take to make?
- Chicken bones (often the carcass of a whole chicken works best)
- Vegetables or vegetable scraps (carrot, onion, celery garlic)
- Herbs and spices (parsley, rosemary)
A good chicken stock can take anywhere between 3-6 hours of simmering, but it’s important that you constantly skim the impurities and top up the liquid to ensure maximum flavour with no nasty bits.
- Always start with room temperature water and let the liquid simmer to bring out the stock ingredients’ maximum flavour
- Don’t add salt! As the stock will be used in addition to other ingredients, you should salt each dish according to the recipe to ensure the stock will be perfect for use in a range of meals
How do I use beef stock?
Similarly to chicken stock, beef stock also has the following uses:
What are the key ingredients to a great beef stock?
- Rich dishes such as spaghetti bolognaise
- Braising meats and stews
Do you need to cook beef stock for the same amount of time as chicken stock?
- Roasted beef bones (marrow, oxtail or knuckles work well)
- Vegetables or vegetable scraps (carrot, onion, celery and garlic)
- Herbs and spices (parsley, rosemary and bay leaves)
Yes! For a richer flavour, we recommend simmering for up to 8 hours.
- Since it takes a long time to make Beef stock, try to make as much as you possibly can in one go
- Don’t throw away any unused stock. Simply freeze and reuse when necessary! Beef stock can be kept frozen for up to 3 months
- Use a slow cooker – this will allow you to get the perfect simmer without losing too much liquid through steam
We hope that you’ve found our Stock 101 guide useful and learnt a few tips and tricks that you can use to elevate your stocks. We want to hear what you’d like to see next on our VIVE Cooking School blog – drop a comment below or on our Instagram and let us know!