Pork Bone Stock (猪骨汤底)
January 11, 2020
Asian cuisines not only use beef and poultry bones to make broth and stock, but also use pork bones extensively. Pork bone based stock is full of umami and aroma, and it also has plenty of protein, collagen, and a small amount of vitamins and minerals. The stock makes an excellent base for delicious soups and can also replace water to add flavor in any meaty or vegetable dish. Among all Asians, Chinese and Koreans especially have a long tradition of adding vegetable, spice, or even medicinal herbs to pork bone stock to make soups that are not only tasty, but also have therapeutic benefits.
In my family, we drink a lot of soup at dinner, especially in the colder months. I usually make this type of pork bone stock once or twice a week during non-summer seasons. The amount of stock used in this recipe is enough for two to three meals (soup) between four people. The recipe is quite simple, with only one ingredient: pork bones. The only other intangible ingredient is your patience as it requires approximate two hours of low rolling boil for the emulsification to happen to produce a milky opaque color. With my two boys around the house, it is hard for me to find a long period of time fully dedicated to cooking. However, most of the cooking time required for this stock is inactive time. So I usually set a timer and do errands or attend my boys at the same time. The final stock is quite flavorful, but still watery, and not nearly as rich and dense as Japanese tonkotsu (豚骨) ramen broth, which takes anywhere from 18-26 hours to make (I will gladly share that recipe in a few weeks). I also wouldn’t drink the tonkotsu ramen broth by the bowl everyday as it would be too rich and unctuous for my taste, but I could drink this pork bone stock based soup every day with no problem.
The bone stock can be used for a variety of soup recipes, including:
- Potato with Tomato Pork Bone Soup (土豆番茄排骨汤 Tu Dou Fan Qie Pai Gu Tang)
- Daikon Pork Bone Soup (白萝卜排骨汤 Bai Luo Bo Pai Gu Tang)
- Tomato Onion Pork Bone Soup (番茄洋葱排骨汤 Fan Qie Yang Cong Pai Gu Tang)
- Napa Cabbage Tofu Pork Bone Soup/Stew (白菜豆腐排骨汤 Bai Cai Dou Fu Pai Gu Tang)
- Corn Potato Carrot Pork Bone Soup (玉米土豆胡萝卜排骨汤 Yu Mi Tu Dou Hu Luo Bo Pai Gu Tang)
From time to time, I will add other soup recipes using this pork bone stock, so stay tuned.
Active Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: ~2.5 hours
- 2 pounds of pork neck bones (pork back bones work too if you can’t find neck bones)
- One large soup pot that holds at least 5 quarts (Stainless steel soup pot, Asian style stoneware pot, or Dutch oven) 1
- Clean the pork neck bones by running them under cold water to remove any visible blood.
- Add all the neck bones into the pot. Then add cold water. The water level should be 1 inch above the bones. Close the lid.
- Heat the pot under medium-high. When the water starts boiling (about 10-15 minutes), uncover and use a mini strainer to remove all the scum and coagulated blood. Continue to boil under medium-high for 5 minutes uncovered and keep removing the scum as it forms.
- After 5 minutes of boiling, remove the pot from the stove. Take all the neck bones out and dump the rest of the liquid. Rinse each neck bone under cold water to further clean the bones. Then clean the pot to make sure no scum is left inside the pot.
- Put all the neck bones back into the pot and fill the water almost all the way up. Close the lid and turn the heat to medium high. When the water starts boiling again (about 15-20 minutes), skim off the remaining scum (there should be little left). Then turn the heat to medium-low or low (depending on your stove) to produce a low rolling boil.2 Cover and set a timer to 1.5 hours.
- Occasionally open the lid to check the state of the stock, ensuring that a constant low rolling boil is maintained at all times.2 After about 1.5 hours, a milky opaque color should be achieved.
- Turn off the heat. Uncover and let the stock cool before storing it in the fridge. The meat on the neck bones should be soft and easily fall off the bones. The stock along with the meat will be good for a week in the refrigerator.
- If using the stock right away, no need to cool. I will add some recipes using this stock in the coming weeks.
- If you can’t find a pot that is over 5 quarts (1 quart is 4 cups) in volume, use a soup pot that is at least 3 quarts and reduce the amount of pork neck bones to 1 pound.
- Low rolling boil is one notch below boil, but much higher than simmer. Simmering will not be able to achieve the coveted milky color as the temperature will not be high enough for the emulsification to take place. If after 1.5 hours the stock is still clear, it means the temperature is not high enough. If that happens, turn the heat a little higher to produce a constant jostling boil then uncover. Check every 30 minutes to see if the stock color has turned milky.