In the course of looking for ever more flavor in our cooking, we latched onto the habit of infusing our double stocks by simmering them a further time with another layer of aromatics. At first, it was a bit cuckoo and we’d conjure a different infusion for every dish: Roasted duck bones went into an infusion for a hot and sour soup with shredded duck; basil stems and roasted garlic went into an infusion for a garlicky beef and basil stir-fry sauce; pounded ginger and lemongrass were added to infuse a base for a lemony ginger chicken. Pretty soon the stovetop was chockablock with pots and we were awash in infusions!
The fascinating experiment came to a happy end with this recipe for a single infusion that satisfied most all of our dishes. Tinged with the flavors of roasted garlic, fresh lemongrass, fresh ginger, and serrano chili, it is also perfumed with the sweetness of onion. There is nothing to replace it in our kitchen, and it is a key element in our cooking.
I have taught infusions to home cooks and the response is overwhelming. I thought it would be too much, this third step in stock-making; but we apparently need some special sustenance and this bowlful provides it.
Infusion is very simple to make, even for a novice. Even without the lemongrass and serrano chili—things that might be hard to get in your neighborhood—the infusion will be delicious. Once strained and cooled, it can be refrigerated or frozen.
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