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Admonished for simmering stock, education questioned...

post #1 of 9
Thread Starter 

Though I'm fairly new to the professional kitchen world, I have been cooking for a long time and I have a culinary education as well. My chef asked me to make a fennel stock, which I did, but after 20 minutes when he found it lightly simmering, he quickly turned the burner off and said something to the effect of "what did they teach you at that school? You NEVER simmer stock, it should steep." I was very confused. Usually I take constructive criticism very well, as I recognize that I'm young and have a lot to learn yet, but this one left me stumped... After some time when things had cooled down a bit, I asked him for clarification about how long he wanted to "steep" the stock, but he only said "I like to let my stock steep for a long time."

 

So my question to all the chefs out there is this: Is steeping really a thing? I googled it and came up with no answers. Every chef I've ever worked under has simmered stock, every recipe I've ever read or followed says to simmer the stock, and every time I've made stock, I've simmered it and it has been satisfactory to the chef's (and my) liking.

 

Thanks.

post #2 of 9

What is your definition of simmering? Stocks should be cooked at about 180-190, ideally. A few bubbles popping up every few seconds is OK, but a true simmer is probably not ideal. 

 

Some chefs do things differently. Hell, some chefs boil the heck out of their stock, but ideally they don't boil. It stirs up particulate matter and fat and can cloud the stock and make it taste fatty. He might mean steep as in "poach" or not boil or simmer. 

 

A veg stock, something like your fennel stock, prob doesn't have much fat in it, so a light simmer could maintain clarity without a problem. If there is a lot of oil or whatever in your sweat, then you should be more cautious. 

 

In any event, he is your chef, so you should do as he/she asks. 

post #3 of 9

I never boil or simmer any stock.  Initially it comes to a light simmer but I immediately turn it to the lowest setting and allow it to steep.  I wouldn't question your boss, and I especially would never say anything like "but all the recipes I've learned and all my culinary teachers have made me simmer the stock and everybody in the whole world I know simmers their stock" because that would be annoying and disrespectful.  

"You are what you eat, so don't be fast, cheap, easy, or fake."

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"You are what you eat, so don't be fast, cheap, easy, or fake."

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post #4 of 9
Thread Starter 

Thanks, but I wasn't asking about how to handle the situation. As I wrote in my original post, I tried to learn how he wanted me to do it, which clearly shows I know how to respect kitchen hierarchy.

 

Yes, it was on a very light simmer. As you all know, veg stock takes relatively little time to make - i usually simmer for 45 minutes. Anyways, thanks for the thoughts.

post #5 of 9
Quote:
Originally Posted by Pavswede View Post
 

So my question to all the chefs out there is this: Is steeping really a thing?

Yes.

Wisdom comes with age, but sometimes age comes alone.
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Wisdom comes with age, but sometimes age comes alone.
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post #6 of 9

I am no professional, but I guess it depends on the stock - for vegetable or chicken, I go with the numbers Someday provided, probably even a bit lower, I generally aim for something just below 80°C -that is not a simmer, that gives you barely 2-3 bubbles per minute.  But what is and what is not a simmer is probably not so well defined, so do not get hung up on the word.

 

On the other hand, you can have things like a tonkotsu stock that needs intensive boiling for hours. Not a simmer, all out heat on this one. 

post #7 of 9

It's definitely a real thing and it gets better results.

"You are what you eat, so don't be fast, cheap, easy, or fake."

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"You are what you eat, so don't be fast, cheap, easy, or fake."

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post #8 of 9
Quote:
Originally Posted by Pavswede View Post
 

...

Yes, it was on a very light simmer. As you all know, veg stock takes relatively little time to make - i usually simmer for 45 minutes. ...

I do exactly the same and I think you're very right on the short simmering time of vegetable stock. Same thing for tricky fish stock; simmer shortly, max. 20 minutes or it will go utterly disgustingly fishy or bitter.

post #9 of 9

When I make 'stock' with shrimp shells it doesn't take long at all.  As soon as the shells turn the color that cooked shrimp turns, off the heat and into the strainer.

 

mjb.

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Food nourishes my body.  Cooking nourishes my soul.
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