Don’t underestimate the power of chicken stock. Each time my wife was in labor with one of our children, I brought pints of frozen stock to the hospital. Now it is a Slanted Door tradition for pregnant staff members. Nutritious and easy to digest, it’s a perfect restorative, whether you’re giving birth or just under the weather. You will note that Vietnamese pork noodle soup recipe (Phở heo) does not contain carrots or celery. We only use roasted onion, ginger, and a small amount of palm sugar to sweeten the stock. Adding dried squid, scallops, or shrimp to chicken stock is common in Asia. The “secret” ingredient in our chicken stock is dried sea worms. Called sa sung in Vietnamese Cuisine, they resemble overgrown earthworms and add a savory note to the broth. They can be difficult to find in the United States (though they can be found in Chinatown ) so Vietnamese pork noodle soup recipe (Phở heo) does not call for them. Not to worry; it’s delicious without them . Don’t simmer the stock too vigorously, or it will end up cloudy.
Makes about 5 ½ quarts
Preheat the oven to 350 ° F. Place the onion and ginger on a rimmed baking sheet and roast for about 1 hour, until the onion is soft and beginning to ooze. Remove from the oven and let the onion and ginger cool until they can be handled. Peel the onion and cut in half. Slice the unpeeled ginger into ¼-inch-thick coins.
While the onion and ginger are roasting, blanch the chicken bones: To ensure the pot is large enough to blanch the bones without boiling over, put the bones in the pot and add water to cover by 1 inch. Then remove the bones, set aside, and bring the water to a boil.
When it is at a rolling boil, add the bones, return the water to a boil and boil for 3 minutes. Drain the bones into a colander and rinse under cold running water. Rinse the pot and return the rinsed bones to the pot.
Add the onion halves, ginger slices, salt, sugar, and 8 quarts fresh water to the pot and bring to a boil over high heat, skimming off any scum that forms on the surface. Lower the heat so the liquid is at a gentle simmer and simmer for 4 hours, skimming as needed to remove any scum that forms on the surface.
Remove the pot from the heat and, using a spider or a slotted spoon, remove and discard the large solids. Strain the stock through a fine-mesh sieve into a large container, let sit for a few minutes (or refrigerate overnight), then skim most of the fat from the surface (leave some, as it gives the stock a better flavor and mouthfeel). Season to taste with salt.
Use immediately, or let cool completely, then transfer to practical-size airtight containers and refrigerate for up to 3 days or freeze for up to 3 months.