This Chinese red master stock can be used to slow-braise poultry, meat, vegetables or, as in this recipe, poach seafood. Layered with spice notes of aniseed, cinnamon, ginger, garlic and orange peel, it adds complexity to any ingredient it is paired with. If you prefer, you can make the stock at the weekend or when you have more time, then freeze it until you're ready to use it. The minimal cooking time for the fish is important for a delicate, silky, result.
4 x 100g ocean trout fillets
1 bok choy, core removed
steamed rice, to serve
Red master stock
6 cups cold water
¾ cup shao hsing wine or dry sherry
½ cup dark soy sauce
¼ cup light soy sauce
½ cup brown sugar
3 garlic cloves, crushed
¼ cup ginger slices
2 spring onions, trimmed and cut in half crossways
¼ tsp sesame oil
2 star anise
1 cinnamon quill
2 strips fresh orange zest
1. Place all stock ingredients in a wide, deep pan and bring to the boil. Reduce heat and simmer gently for 40 minutes to allow flavours to infuse.
2. Lower fish into simmering stock and cover with a cartouche (paper lid) to ensure it is fully submerged. Poach fish gently for exactly two minutes; there should be no more than an occasional ripple breaking the surface. Immediately remove pan from the stove and allow fish to steep in the stock for five minutes to complete the cooking process.
3. Meanwhile, separate bok choy leaves and wash thoroughly. Add leaves to a saucepan of boiling salted water and blanch for 30 seconds, or until almost tender. Drain immediately.
4. Using a slotted spoon, gently remove the fish from the stock and transfer to a serving bowl. Spoon two thirds of a cup of the master stock, along with some whole spices and aromatics, over fish. Top with bok choy and serve immediately with steamed rice.
Tip: You can substitute the bok choy with other fresh vegetables such as asparagus spears, choy sum, gai laan or Chinese white cabbage leaves. Other suggested seafood includes fillets of salmon, blue eye, Murray cod, red emperor, mahi mahi or barramundi, plus peeled, de-veined king prawns work really well.