“Why you want drink cock’s tail, huh?”
What is it? It’s New Year’s Eve, year of the rooster. Forget fancy drinks, craft-choked libations and your own gussied-up liquid vanities for just one minute, will you? The best thing you should really be drinking this week is your mother’s chicken soup. Perfect in hot pot, longevity noodles, breakfast, lunch and dinner. And if you really can’t rein in your 2017 bartender tendencies, you can even dash a couple of ml in your Chinese New Year Martini for that elusive peek of umami.
How is it made? Well, here’s the thing: homespun simplicity is nothing of the sort. This isn’t a recipe you can just wing. “Ars est celare artem,” as my mother didn’t say. In her kitchen, the making of a perfect stock started this time last year – for today’s soup. A solera system. Older stock stocks are siphoned off; fresh herb, spice, drumstick and beak added. Yes beaks, and actually combs and wattles too (“texture”, she says). But no tail feathers – “Why you want drink cock’s tail, huh?” The municipal water source is crucial, she reckons – something to do with its uniquely balanced mineral content? – “But only draw seven seconds after the tap is switched on, yeah? No earlier.” To cook: knobbly copper pans, small batches. Add in bruised bones and chicken meat to the brew (she doesn’t seem to understand my question about organics), and never skim the fats, to retain the simmer’s best oils – the non-chill filtered approach. And finally she ladles into re-fill tupperwares, freezes and distributes to all members of the family.
What does it taste like? Back-off-Back-off! Nothing comes close. Egg-cellent! Happy Chinese New Year, DRiNK readers.