Cookbook Profile

Homemade Chicken Broth

Makes about 2 quarts


My parents' friend Mrs. K. L. Woo taught me that traditional Chinese cooks never cook their food in metal pots, especially when it comes to chicken broth or herb soups. The metal is said to diminish the restorative qualities of the broth. The classic utensil is the sandpot, the tall upright ones (larger than the ones used for braising) which are inexpensive and available in Chinatown. As with Korean Ginseng Soup, serve this broth with a porcelain spoon to prevent the food from being contaminated by any metal. When using a clay pot, start on low heat and let the water and pot gradually heat. If you do not have a sandpot and a porcelain spoon, be assured that there are plenty of Chinese families who make their broth in a metal pot; sandpots are only for very particular cooks. Unlike the Western tradition of simmering stock uncovered, the Chinese always cook their stocks covered to seal in the flavor. The only other ingredient besides the chicken is ginger, although in the winter some cooks will add a few Chinese red dates. This broth is a staple of my parents' lives. It is one of the only foods you will always find in their freezer Homemade Chicken Broth is vital to good home cooking and is the ultimate tonic; canned chicken broth is not a substitute.


One 4-pound chicken
2 teaspoons salt
2 slices ginger, 1/2 inch thick


Remove any fat pockets from the chicken and rub the chicken all over with salt. Remove as much skin as possible, and rinse the chicken under cold water. Place the chicken in a pot large enough to hold it, and add 10 cups cold water, then place it over medium-high heat. As the water heats, skim the scum that rises to the surface, adjusting the heat so the broth never boils; skim until most of the scum has been removed. Add the ginger, and bring to a boil over high heat. Cover, reduce heat to low, and simmer 3 to 4 hours. Allow it to cool and then strain the broth, discarding the chicken and ginger; cover the broth and refrigerate. The next day, remove the hardened fat on top. Salt is not added, on the assumption that it will be added to the dish in which the broth is used.

For more information visit


The Wisdom of the Chinese Kitchen
Classic Family Recipes for Celebration and Healing

By Grace Young
Published by Simon & Schuster Editions
Hardback, $27.50
Publication date: May 1999
ISBN: 0-684-84739-6
Recipe Reprinted by permission.


The Wisdom of the Chinese Kitchen



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This page created June 1999