This soup is only as good as the broth. (You know where I’m going with this don’t you?) Despite the somewhat rustic start to making this broth, the finish is surprisingly light and feminine in flavor with lemongrass, ginger, and cilantro.
This is one of those recipes that is more feel than precise measurement and unfortunately I don’t know how doable it is for home cooks. Although many Asian supermarkets and butcheries carry various pig parts including bones.
The pork broth starts with raising pigs humanely and it ends with processing them humanely. Here at Echo Valley Farm that is important. And, for a change, I’m not going to elaborate except to say these pigs had a great life.
I roast the bones until nicely caramelized. Unlike some animal fat, pork fat has this incredibly rich scent that gets the senses going – makes me hungry! – hard to walk through the kitchen with pork bones in the oven.
After the fat left on the bone is caramelized, but not burnt, and the bones roasted I put them in an enormous stock pot (almost the size of me) along with the pig’s head and cover all with cold water. This I simmer slowly all day, all night, and all morning.
Here’s a basic recipe for stock: put bones, roasted or not, in a stock pot and cover with water by 4-inches (too much water will make it taste watery). Bring to a boil and skim off impurities that rise to the top including white-ish foam. Turn down heat and simmer, add mirepoix (carrots, celery, onion, herbs) and cook for a length of time depending on bone density and intensity of flavor desired. One hour for chicken to all day & night for pig or beef stock.
If brown stock is desired, brown the bones. If normal stock is called for, don’t. If a perfectly clear broth (consommé) is on order with no cloudiness, then clarify the finished stock with egg whites. And, do not add salt because it will reduce.
After a day and a half of making pork stock, I strain the liquid from the bones, and infuse with homegrown lemongrass, ginger, garlic, and onion. I strain this out again and add sliced fingerling potatoes, napa cabbage, carrots, tokyo turnips, chives, and a splash of rice wine vinegar.
I finish ladled soup with a drizzle of toasted sesame oil, a splash of white shoyu, a sprinkle of white sesame seed, and cilantro leaves to float. This soup couldn’t be lighter and heartier at the same time. Healing and whole hearted-ly fulfilling.