Best Stock To Buy in SG

14 Sep, 2018 | Editorials

Introduction:

 

No; not the stock market – I meant cooking stock liquid!

We had a great question from one of our participants; “What’s the best stock to buy?”; when we were cooking off some really yummy French onion soup. I told her; “Perhaps it best if I told you what I look for rather than me giving you a brand”.

  

#1: Stock Types:

 

There are 2 major types of stock for purchase in Singapore. One is cubed or compacted powder; the other in already liquid form or in some dehydrated version a paste or jelly concentrate.

Bottomline: Most cubed, powdered forms, generally, contain a lot of sodium in their content.

#2: Stock Flavours

 

In supermarkets, you’ll find a few different varieties such as: Chicken, Beef, Vegetable, Fish, Seafood or unique to SEA – ikan bilis stock.

While the Chicken, Beef, Vegetable, Fish stocks are pretty straightforward – seafood stock is made from not only fish, but bits of prawn and other shellfish. Ikan bilis on the other hand is made from well; ikan bilis and tastes a little deeper in umami than the generic fish stock.

Yes, there is such a thing as ‘vegetarian chicken stock’! It’s mostly made with roasting onions dark caramel with added salt; sprinkled with dehydrated herbs and spices to emulate the taste of roasted chicken!

Bottomline: If in doubt to use on the dish, use the vegetarian stock – its more neutral in flavour.

 

#3: Check the Ingredients Label

 

This is my MOST IMPORTANT TIP of the day. Check the ingredients label, and if possible the nutritional panel too! 

Here’s a rundown of Product X (Jelly), Y (Liquid) and Z (Powder) as examples, they truly show you how different chicken stock can be made of!

 

Product X (Jelly) Product Y (Liquid) Product Z (Powder)
Salt, Flavourings (Contain Soya, Gluten and Celery), Sugar, Chicken Extract and Fat, Modified Corn Starch, Sodium Isonate and Sodium Guanylate, Yeast Extract, Onion, Trisodium Cirtrate, Edible Gum and Sodium Hydroxide. Chicken Stock (98%) [Water, Chicken, Carrot, Celery, Cabbage, Onion, Sage Extract, Parsley], Salt, Sugar, Yeast Extract. Salt, Palm Fat, Monosodium Glutamate, Sugar, Chicken Meat and Fat, Cornstarch, Soya Sauce Flavourings (contains Wheat, Eggs), Palm Olein, Yeast Extract, Spices, Garlic, Sodium Isonate and Guanylate.
Sodium Content: ~200mg/100ml Sodium Content: ~450mg/100ml Sodium Content: ~700mg/100ml

 

 Here is what I look for:

1. Weird Sounding Science Words: Not all of them are ‘bad’, while some are used for additives other are more common and used as a preservatives (keeping it fresh). As a rule of thumb however; more is bad BUT Google it!

2. Known Bad Science Words: We all know Sodium Glutamate aka MSG to be not good for you in large amounts but other food additives like Sodium Isonate and Guanylate are more like MSG’s evil cousins.

3. Sodium Content: Sodium indicates the approximate amount of salt level that is in the product. Generally the more sodium it has, the more salty is tastes and less ‘real flavour’ is present. Sodium doesn’t do any wonders for your blood pressure either.

4. Order of Ingredients: In most cases, manufacturers have to list down ingredients by order of ‘most’ to ‘least’ in its label. You can generally say that most of the product Z is just made up in majority of salt, fat, MSG and sugar!

Bottomline: Read the ingredient labels and nutritional label! Not marketing labels. 

Conclusion:

 

Choosing between X, Y or Z? – mine would be Y. Somewhere middle on sodium count, but way less chemicals!

If you really have to use store bought stock, look into these criteria above before selecting one that best for you. Instant stock is great if you’re in the rush to cook something, however, none of this will beat a good old fashion stock that’s been cooked at home.

Want a cheater stock recipe for home? Let me know on facebook if you do need one!

As always have fun in the kitchen! – Chef Gary

Print Recipe
Paella of Prawn And Chicken
A Spanish classic of a one pan dish, easy to customise and create your own flavours.
Course Mains
Cuisine Spanish
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 15 minuntes
Passive Time 20 minutes
Servings
portions
Ingredients
Course Mains
Cuisine Spanish
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 15 minuntes
Passive Time 20 minutes
Servings
portions
Ingredients
Instructions
Stock & Prawn Prep
  1. Shell and devein you prawns. Do not discard shells and heads as this will be the basis of your stock. Put aside the prawns for cooking late
  2. Shell and devein you prawns. Do not discard shells and heads as this will be the basis of your stock. Put aside the prawns for cooking later
  3. Place in about a 1 litre of water while still on high heat and deglaze the bottom of the pot.
  4. Bring the pot to a simmer and turn down the heat. Let it simmer for about 20 minutes.
Sofrito & Meat Prep
  1. Finely chop up your garlic, tomato and onion. This is the base vegetable mix.
  2. Trim off excess fat from your chicken and separate the thighs and drumsticks apart.
Cooking
  1. Start with a paella pan, or if not a flat based frying pan with less curved walls on medium heat with a glug of olive oil.
  2. Sear off your chicken until brown. At this point you can add the sofrito mix (onions, tomato & garlic) and saute until brown.
  3. Add turmeric, smoked paprika, salt and pepper and incorporate this into the mix.
  4. Add in your rice, and slightly toast it off before adding the prepared stock.
  5. At this point, even out the rice so that is level and bring the stock back to a boil. Then reduce it back to a simmer.
  6. Do not mix the rice! When the stock level and rice is even on the pan, your peas and prawns.
  7. Let if fully cook and dry out until the bottom has achieved a caramelised layer (soccarat).
  8. Garnish with some parsley and serve with lemon.
Recipe Notes

Chef Notes:

  • Paella Rice is normally a short grain rice originating from Spain. The most popular type of this is called Bomba Rice. However, in Singapore, this is quite hard to find. A very good substitution is Arborio, which is a short grain Italian rice instead. The main difference between the two rices is that Arborio has a higher concentration of starch compared to the Bomba.
  • Saffron is the original 'hero' ingredient in this dish. However, most daily cooks will find that saffron is far too expensive for an ingredient to 'play' around it. Turmeric is its substitute for colour only but not its aroma or flavour.
  • Sofrito is the basic flavour elements to begin with the dish. Normally done with onions and tomatoes and can be caramelised into a paste to increased sugars and complexity to the dish.
  • Stock - You can use any type of stock to flavour in the paella. However seafood-esque stocks such as prawn, clams, crab mussels are more common.
  • Paella pan is a specialised pan for creating paellas. These normally are made of steel, shallow, with two holding handles on the sides with slightly splayed sides. It normally has a slight dip in the middle to assist with sauteing the sofrito. Paella pans are not common in Singapore and mostly only found is speciality hospitality stores. A good substitute would be a frying pan with similar splayed sides.
  • Stirring - The most common mistake is that people tend to think that the rice needs to be stirred while cooking. This is the cardinal sin of making a paella. Stirring is mostly used to make risotto - which is a complete different style and cuisine. By mixing the rice, you often release the starches within the rice grain, making the paella 'sticky' when the actual consistency should be the complete opposite.
  • Soccarat is always acheived at the end of cooking cycle and often the hallmark of a good paella. This is the caramelized layer at the bottom of the pan - often similarly described to the sticky bottom of the claypot chicken rice.
  • Serving - Paella is often serve with the pan on the table for communal dining.