Ingredient Name: Fresh Beef Bones
Traditional Chinese Name: 牛骨 (niú gǔ)
What is this?
- In soups, beef bones are primarily used to make beef stock
- Not a common ingredient used in Chinese soups at all – in fact, beef is not a common ingredient for “old fire” soups traditionally compared to pork – if you consider it from a historical perspective, having a cow back in those days meant you were wealthy
- Bones are rich in nutrients (calcium & magnesium), collagen, easy to digest and rich in flavour
- Shown in the picture are the ribs of the cow – I used this for my pho base because it’s relatively low in fat, but you can consider using cow knuckle and leg bones as well
- The amount of fat on the bones will vary depending on which part. The ox-tail (of beef tail) is often a fatty part of the cow, but the most commonly purchased bone part from the vendor! He usually has the tail on reserve already for clients.
How do I prepare it?
- Make sure the pieces you buy can fit into your pot (that’s probably the first most important thing!)
- Blanch the bones in boiling water for at least 5 minutes to boil out the impurities and fat – this will produce a brown film of “gunk” which you should just throw out
Where can I buy this?
- Most Asian wet marts will carry beef bones at the beef vendor
- Supermarkets may also carry beef bones, which are already cut up into manageable pieces for you to take home
What is the cost?
- The cost will vary depending on supply, but in Hong Kong, 3 bones (as pictured above) cost me $30 HKD
- Bones (any animal) are an excellent source of nutrients and minerals such as Calcium, Magnesium, Potassium, and silicon
- The broth created from bones are easy to digest, are high in amino acids, collagen and gelatin
- Bones broth is actually known to help fight colds and viruses because of these amino acids that help boost immune system and heal disorders like allergies, asthma and arthritis
- Nothing beats real stock with real bones – store bought stock (which are primarily enhanced with flavour enhancers) has nothing over real stock
- Be careful of an over fatty cut of the bone – knuckles, ox-tail, or any other cuts that come with fat should be either cut off or boiled off and then removed from the soup
- Consider purchasing animal products that you know are pasture-fed and free of antibiotics and hormones
- Be sure to remove any scum that boils from the soup or blanching process