Vegetable stock can be tasty and light. Stir-frying vegetables in the wok with oil before simmering helps to impart a wonderful smoky flavour to the stock. Use the recipe as it is or, by all means, experiment and suit your own taste. You can cut the quantities in half the recipe makes too much for your needs.
Soak the dried mushrooms in warm water for 20 minutes, drain them, squeeze out any excess liquid and coarsely chop the caps and stems. Strain and reserve the mushroom liquid. Coarsely chop the carrots, Chinese leaves, celery and onions. Wash, cut and discard the green part of the leeks and coarsely chop the white portion. Peel the shallots but leave them whole.
Heat a large pan or wok over a moderate heat. Add the oil, spring onions, ginger, garlic and shallots and stir-fry for 1 minute. Then add the carrots, celery, leeks and onions and continue to cook for 5 minutes. Put all the vegetables and the rest of the ingredients into a very large pan. Cover them with the reserved mushroom liquid and cold water and bring it to a simmer. Using a large, flat spoon, skim off the foam as it rises to the top, this will take about 5 minutes. Bring the stock to a boil. Now turn the heat down to a moderate simmer and cook for about 2 hours.
Strain the stock through a large colander and then through a very fine-meshed sieve, and then let it cool thoroughly. It is now ready to be used or transferred to containers and frozen for future use.
© 1996 Ken Hom. All rights reserved.