Last week I introduced you to an array of spices for making soy sauce marinade 鹵水. I would be a tease if I don’t follow up with a recipe for making the marinating broth and how to use it. I always wanted my own heirloom broth. After a bit of work last weekend, I am off to a great start with a fledging broth which gave me plenty of delicious marinated goodness.
A platter of assorted marinated meat is a great appetizer for parties or casual family dinner. Everything is conveniently made ahead of time and can be served hot or cold depending on personal preference. Having a stash of cold meat and eggs in the fridge also means busy weeknight dinners are taken care of. Just add noodles or rice and I have a complete meal!
It is true that many Chinese restaurants and grocery stores sell ready-made versions of soy sauce marinated everything. Why bother going through the trouble for making it from scratch at home? For me, I appreciate the freedom to use high quality ingredients such as organic meat and free-range eggs. Do you realize how fussy it is to peel a basket of delicate quail eggs? That’s why you rarely see marinated quail eggs anywhere but the rich taste is incomparable.
I am somewhat a snob when it comes to boiled eggs. Rubbery eggs hold little appeal to me. I can’t tell you how many times I felt like a fool to pay a dollar for soy sauce marinated eggs at restaurants…only to be disappointed with an overcooked rubber ball. I was thrilled to taste my own version with velvety smooth yolk and delicate whites.
I made a point to cook some meat in the first version of my broth. Beef shin is a great idea because the large cut of meat requires long simmering which in turn infuses the broth with meaty taste. If I am not much mistaken, this is not a usual cut of meat for mainstream butchers. You may need to go to a Chinese butcher for boneless beef shins. For something easier to find, a whole chicken would work well too though I personally prefer chicken legs. Dark meat is so much more forgiving to cook.
I look forward to years of enjoying my very own heirloom soy sauce marinade. I hope you will give it a try too! Just remember, this is only a blueprint so feel free to adjust the seasoning to your taste with every batch. I know I will!
Soy Sauce Marinated Assortment 鹵水拼盆
adapted from 家傳菜 (Family Recipes) by 程安琪 (Angela Cheng) and 林慧懿 (Theresa Lin)
Spice Bundle (read more on these ingredients)
- 1 tablespoon Szechwan peppercorn 花椒
- 2 whole star anise 八角
- 2-inch piece of aged mandarin peel 陳皮
- 1 stick of cinnamon bark 桂皮
- 2 3-inch slices of liquorice root 甘草
- 2 whole pods of cardamom 草果
- 1/2 tablespoons of fennel seeds 小茴香
- 1 whole nutmeg 荳蔻
- 5 whole cloves 丁香
- 2 bay leafs 月桂葉
- 4 teaspoons of black peppercorn
- 1 tablespoon of cooking oil
- 4-5 3-inch slices of ginger 薑
- 2 stalks of green onion 蔥
- 5 cloves of garlic, peeled and lightly smashed
- 1 cup of rice cooking wine (mine contains 19.5% alcohol, 1.5% salt)
- 2 cups of soy sauce 生抽
- 1 tablespoon of rock sugar 冰糖
- 7-8 cups of water
- whole beef shin 牛腱
- chicken legs
- medium or hard boiled eggs, peeled
- medium or hard boiled quail eggs, peeled
- pressed tofu
- To make spice bundle, put all spice bundle ingredients in a cotton jelly bag or disposable paper tea bag. Knot securely with kitchen twine. Set aside.
- In a 5qt or larger Dutch oven, heat 1 tablespoon cooking oil over medium high heat until it shimmies. Sauté ginger, green onion, and garlic in hot oil until fragrant. Pour in cooking wine and soy sauce. Stir for a minute. Add rock sugar, 7 cups of water, and spice bundle and bring to boil. If you pot is larger than 5qt, you can add the remaining 1 cup of water too. Otherwise, it would be too full. If your rice wine does not contain salt (hurray!), add in 1/2 tablespoon salt to the broth. Turn heat down to low and simmer for 20 minutes.
- While your master broth is simmering, you can prepare the ingredients for the marinade assortment. Raw meat such as beef shin or chicken leg need to be briefly blanched in boiling water for a minute and rinsed (that’s what they look like after blanching). Eggs can be boiled and peeled. Pressed tofu just needs to be rinsed and cut into small pieces.
- Your broth is now ready. I recommend that you start with some meat to infuse the master broth with meaty taste. When you’re using a fresh spice bundle, you may want to remove the bundle from broth after 20 minutes of simmering otherwise the taste may be too strong.
Ingredient Simmering Time Marinating Time Beef Shin (whole) 60 min 6+ hours Chicken Leg (whole) 20 min 1 hour Boiled Eggs nil overnight Boiled Quail Eggs nil overnight Pressed Tofu nil overnight in broth that you don’t reuse. Tofu has tendency to turn the broth sour.
- To serve, cut marinated ingredients to bite size pieces for an assortment platter. The dish can be enjoyed hot or cold. Drizzle with master broth and sesame oil if desired.
- Keep in mind that your master broth is meant to be used over and over again. Every batch of cooking infuses it with more flavour. To put it away for storage, bring broth to a rolling boil, strain of solids, cool and store in freezer. The spice bundle can be stored separately in the freezer as well.
- To refresh your master broth, you can add a fresh spice bundle, 2:1 ratio of soy sauce and rice wine, and aromatics such as ginger, green onion, and garlic. Top it off with more water if necessary. Bring to boil and simmer for 20 minutes.