Why It Works
- Cutting up the chicken into parts aids in flavor and gelatin extraction.
- Grinding the breast meat helps create a clarifying raft as the stock cooks.
- Maintaining a low simmer of about 205°F (96°C) will prevent large amounts of fat from becoming emulsified into the stock.
- Steeping the vegetables in the hot stock imparts flavor without significantly altering the color of the final stock.
- Steeping kombu, a good source of glutamates, in the stock adds another dimension of flavor.
Some ramen fans prize a clear broth over all others, both for its light flavor and because it can be quite beautiful, particularly with droplets of aromatic oil dispersed across the surface. You can use a pressure cooker to produce a clear chicken stock for use in a ramen broth, but one of the best ways to make a clear chicken stock is on the stovetop.
For this recipe, we rely on a few tricks to keep the stock as clear as possible while also maximizing flavor extraction, like grinding up the breast meat and keeping the temperature of the liquid close to 205°F (96°C), which translates to a bare simmer. Steeping vegetables and kombu, or dried kelp, in the liquid helps flavor the stock without darkening it too much.
- 1 whole chicken (about 4 pounds; 1.8kg), cut up into 14 parts (see note)
- 1 leek (about 10 ounces; 280g), including dark-green parts, washed well of sand and sliced crosswise very thinly (see note)
- 1 yellow onion (about 11 ounces; 310g), peeled and diced (see note)
- 1 medium carrot (about 6 ounces; 170g), peeled and diced (see note)
- 6 medium cloves garlic, minced (see note)
- One 1-inch piece ginger, peeled and thinly sliced (see note)
- 1/4 ounce kombu, or dried kelp (7g; about one 7- by 2-inch piece)
Place chicken breast meat in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse until meat is well chopped up and roughly resembles ground beef.
Add remaining chicken parts to a stockpot. Place ground chicken breast meat on top and cover with water by about 2 inches (about 2 quarts or 1.8L water).
Place stockpot over high heat and bring to a simmer, stirring occasionally to break up ground-meat mixture.
Adjust heat to medium-low or low to maintain a bare simmer; the temperature of the water should register around 205°F (96°C) and a steady but gentle stream of rising bubbles should be visible, with little to no agitation on the surface of the liquid. Adjust the pot's position so that it is not directly over the eye of the burner, but off to the side, to create a convection current. (This will help regulate the temperature of the liquid.) Keep at a bare simmer for 3 hours.
Place chopped leek, onion, carrot, garlic, and ginger in a large heatproof mixing bowl.
Using a ladle or large spoon, skim off the layer of fat on top of the stock. (This fat can be strained of any debris and used as an aroma oil for ramen, or for some other purpose; it can also be discarded.) Leftover chicken parts can be used to make niban tori paitan broth, or they can be discarded. Discard ground chicken breast meat.
Strain stock through a fine-mesh strainer into the mixing bowl with the chopped vegetables. Submerge kombu in stock and let steep 45 minutes.
Strain stock through fine-mesh strainer into a clean bowl. Vegetables and kombu can be reserved for use in niban tori paitan broth, or they can be discarded. Decant stock into sealable containers and refrigerate.
The more finely you cut the vegetables, the better the final flavor of the stock will be. Larger pieces of leftover chicken (but not the ground breast meat) can be used to make a niban tori paitan broth, as can the leftover vegetables and kombu.
Make-Ahead and Storage
In the refrigerator, the stock will keep for 1 week. In the freezer, it will keep for up to 3 months.