In Vietnamese cooking, we always clean bones first before making stock. Either rubbing them down with salt and giving them a good rinse with water, or parboiling the bones with salted water, cleaning the bones will get rid of all the impurities to keep the stock clear. In other words, boiling the bones first will remove all the gunk and make the stock pretty. In Vietnamese cooking, a highly prized stock is a clear stock.
For this particular post, I’m making pork stock. To make pork stock, put the bones straight into a large stock pot. Add a bit of salt then fill the pot with water, enough to cover bones. Bring the pot to a boil. While the pork bones sit in the room temperature water, the water opens up all the nooks and crannies so blood and other impurities can loosen up and bleed out. Once the pot comes to a rolling boil, the pot will have a lot of gunk floating at the top, at which point immediately turn off heat. Place a colander in the sink and drain the content of the pot into the colander to discard all the dirty water. A lot of Westerners freak out at this point because they think all the stock just went down the drain. Relax, that’s not the case. It’s just dirty water. If you see the gunk in this water, you wouldn’t want that in your body. See picture below.
Wash the parboiled bones with cold running water, making sure to give it a good scrub to loosen up and wash away other loose particles. Rinse the bones then drain them dry. The bones are now ready for stock. Just make sure to wash the stock pot thoroughly before reusing it.
To make the stock, add water to the stock pot and bring to a boil. Add cleaned bones, a peeled yellow onion and small chunks of daikon. Cook the stock on a low simmer pot for 1-1/2 hours. The low simmer will prevent the stock from getting cloudy. Occasionally, skim the surface of any foam/bubbles that float to the top. Gather them all in one corner of the pot and scoop them all out at once. It’s best to do the skimming at the beginning of cooking because the fat (flavor!) have yet to be rendered in the stock yet so you aren’t scooping out and discarding delicious fat.
After 1-1/2 hours, remove all the solids by straining the stock into a container. You now have clean and clear pork stock for use with many Vietnamese recipes, such as the many vegetable soup side dishes (canh) or use it as a base for noodle soups.
To season the stock and make it a delicious broth, simply add equal amounts of granulated white sugar, stock powder (use either chicken, pork or mushroom) and salt (fine sea salt is best). Add a bit at a time to your liking. If you use MSG like me because you’re awesome, a general rule of thumb is for every tablespoon salt, use 1/2 teaspoon MSG. A little MSG goes a long way so much isn’t needed to make a very flavorful broth.
Vietnamese Homemade Pork Stock/Broth (Nuoc Leo Suon Heo)
Makes 7 cups
- 2 lbs pork bones (neckbones, marrow bones and/or spareribs)
- 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 3 liters water
- 10 oz daikon (peel and slice into small chunks)
- 10 oz yellow onion (peel; leave whole)
- 1 tablespoon white granulated sugar
- 1 tablespoon fine sea salt
- 1 tablespoon pork, mushroom or chicken stock powder
- 1/2 teaspoon MSG (optional)
- To a large stock pot, add pork bones, salt (1 teaspoon) and water to cover. Cover pot and bring it to a boil. Once it comes to a rolling boil and impurities appear at the top, turn off heat.
- Place a large colander in a sink and strain the content of pot into the colander, discarding all the dirty water. Wash bones throughly with cold running water. Rinse and drain dry. Set aside.
- Clean the stock pot and fill it with water (3 liters) and return to stove. Bring the pot to a boil then add the cleaned bones, daikon and yellow onion. Simmer on low for 1-1/2 hours, uncovered. Occasionally, skim the surface of any foam/bubbles that float to the top.
- Strain out solids. To make a tasty bone broth, season stock with sugar, sea salt, stock powder and MSG (optional). Serve with the bones (don't discard; lots of tender meats there) and optionally garnish with green onions and/or cilantro for a beautiful finish.