FOOD: Bone broth nutritious

Turn bone broths into many other dishes. Picture: SUPPLIED

The wet and windy cyclonic weather this weekend should remind readers to stay warm and healthy by eating foods that contain natural medicine to strengthen the immune system. Sickness usually follows a cyclone as the hot and humid pre-cyclone weather quickly changes into cold and wet.

To help reduce getting sick or hasten the recovery process, your body needs plenty of fluids and natural foods that contain essential vitamins and minerals. Cooking soups, stews and casseroles offers many advantages during cyclone season when most families are stuck at home as we wait for the weather to pass. Stews are also easy as they require just one pot or cooking dish – and less to clean up.

It also gives the family cook the chance to clear out the fridge and use up any excess vegetables in the garden. Meaty bones and fish carcasses are perfect bases for soups and stews as the deep flavour in the bones and marrow are unlocked over a few hours of boiling. The bones also contain essential medicine for healing.


What is a bone broth?

 Most Fijians know bone broth as soup sui. I’ve often enjoyed a bowl of beef sui with my staff served with fresh lemon and chilli, but did you know just how healthy and repairing it can be for the body?

The bones and tissues of many types of animal make good bone broth, including beef, chicken, goat, pork and even fish bones. Drinking bone broth can be beneficial for the joints and digestive system and contains other important nutrients, especially minerals, derived from the connective tissues. Simmering the bones in water with some vinegar or lemon juice helps release nutrients from the marrow within the bones, as well as break down other tissues into the water.

Bigger animal bones like beef and pork can take nearly half to a full day to really extract the nutrients and amino acids, but smaller bones from chicken and fish can extract all the flavour and nutrition in just a few hours. Whatever bones you start with, be patient, it will take time as the smells waft through the house and village.

Your patience will be rewarded with a flavourful, nutritious broth that can be eaten as a soup or you can more vegetables and meats to create an earthy stew.


Bones are full of nutrition 

Bones themselves are rich in vitamins and nutrients, including calcium, magnesium, and phosphorous. Also, brewing connective tissue into the bone broth provides the body with natural compounds from the cartilage that are said to help our own joints.

Tissues and bones also contain collagen. Cooking collagen turns it to gelatin, which provides the body with amino acids, which are the building blocks of proteins.

Bone marrow is rich in nutrients such as iron, selenium, zinc and manganese. Bone broth provides trace amounts of these nutrients, and many claim that consuming it is an easy way to take in these nutrients in a form that is easier to digest. Adding other ingredients including fresh vegetables, ginger, garlic and herbs to the broth also adds additional nutrients.


Good for aging joints

The human body ages and begins to show a bit of wear and tear as we get older or play sports, and one of the pains in later life is joint pain.

The cold weather experienced during and post cyclone can remind us of our age or that old sports injury, especially in our elbows, knees, hands and feet. Bone broth is an excellent source of gelatin, which breaks down into collagen in the body, and is especially important in the joints.

Cartilage in the joints tends to wear down or shrink through continual use. This can add more stress to the joints, which may become damaged as a result of the added pressure.

A 2017 review that appears in the US journal Sports Medicine suggests that both laboratory and animal studies show that gelatin supplementation increases the amount of collagen in the tissues. This may help protect the joints from unnecessary stress.

Consuming bone broth may be a good way to add gelatin to the diet, which may help protect these joints. My late grandmother lived to a ripe age of 87 and her remedy for easing her arthritis was to d r i n k plenty bone broths and eat plenty of chicken feet. Gelatinous chicken feet and pork trotters are favoured by many aging Chinese for this very reason.


How to make bone broth 

Extracting the goodness from animal bones takes time.

The bigger the bones, the longer it takes for the gelatin and nutrients to seep out from the bones. I usually boil larger beef bones for about eight-12 hours (24 hours is even better), pork bones four-six hours, whilst chicken and fish bones might only take two-four hours.

These are only approximate times. Once the bones begin falling apart, there is no point cooking any longer. Slow cookers are perfect for bone broths because you can better control temperature and time, and you don’t have to keep an eye on a stovetop pot.

A simple way to make it is to save bones from other meals. For instance, a chicken carcass that is complete with beak and claws may make a good basis for a bone broth. After making a big batch of broth, store it in smaller containers or ice trays in the freezer.

Heat these smaller containers as needed, and the broth will last longer than the cyclone. Stay safe and keep in touch with loved ones.

???? Lance Seeto is the host of FBC-TV’s Exotic Delights: Taste the World, every Monday and Thursday night and is also the executive chef at Malamala Beach Club and the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Tourism’s Culinary ambassador


Exotic delight recipes

2kg of bones and tissues (see step 2)
2 tablespoon white or apple cider vinegar
3 litres water (more during cooking process)
1. Add the bones to a pot of cold water to effectively
extract the nutrients from the bones, making
sure there is plenty of water covering the bones.
2. Boil the ingredients together in a large pot or
slow cooker, then reduce to a simmer for 6-8 hours
for beef, 4-6 hours for pork or 1-2 hours for fi sh and
chicken bones. Check the water level and add more
during the cooking process so your broth does not
dry out.
3. Before letting it cool. Strain through a cloth or
fi ne strainer and pour into smaller containers for
Roasting the bones before simmering will give the
broth a rich, earthy colour and taste.
2kg mixed beef bones
3 litres water
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1 large carrot
1 large onion
1. Preheat the oven to a hot 200°C.
2. Rinse the bones to remove excess blood, strain
and pat dry with paper towel
3. Place the bones in a single layer, and place in
the middle of the oven and roast for 30 minutes.
4. Transfer the hot bones to a large stockpot. Add
the water and vinegar and stir to combine. Cover
and let sit for 30 minutes.
5. Bring the pot to a simmer over high heat.
6. Check the pot occasionally, skimming off any
foam that collects on the surface and adding additional
water as needed to keep the ingredients
covered. Cover and keep the broth at a low simmer
for at least 12 hours; 24 if you have the time.
7. Add the carrots and onions and continue to simmer
for 2 hours more, adding more water as needed
to keep the bones covered. The broth is done when
it is a rich golden-brown and the bones are falling
apart at the joints.
8. When the broth is finished, strain and cool the
bone broth as quickly as possible. Discard the spent
bits of bone and vegetables.
9. Season with salt and pepper.
10. Add noodles, vegetables and more cooked
beef to create a wholesome bowl of noodles.
This soup rice recipe, or congee, is in two stages.
The fi rst makes the chicken broth, the second you
add the rice and aromatics to fi nish off the dish.
1 whole chicken no. 14, chopped in curry size
2 teaspoons Chinese sesame oil
3 stalk spring onions, roughly chopped, plus extra
to serve
3 garlic cloves, minced
1-inch piece fresh ginger, roughly grated
long grain rice (see step 3)
salt and white pepper
1. Make the broth fi rst by adding the chopped
chicken into a large pot of COLD water that covers
the chicken pieces by at least double. Turn on the
heat and bring the stock to the boil. Add 2 teaspoon
salt. Reduce to simmer for 45 minutes only. You
want a make stock but don’t want to overcook the
2. Allow to cool. Strain out and rinse the chicken.
Remove any impurities in the stock by pouring the
stock through a fi ne strainer into a new pot. Now
prepare the stock to cook the rice.
3. The thickness of the soup rice depends on the
ratio of rice to water. For thick soup, use one cup of
rice to eight cups of water; medium use one cup of
rice to 10 cups of water; and for thin soup rice use
one cup of rice to 13 cups of water. Use less water
if you’re cooking with a rice cooker or slow cooker,
since you will lose less water to evaporation.
4. Add the rice, ginger, garlic and spring onions
to the stock. Bring to the boil and reduce to simmer
with a lid loosely on (enough to allow steam to
escape) until the rice soup is the right consistency.
This may take between 30-45 minutes.
5. Add the cooked chicken pieces, sesame oil,
white pepper and salt and simmer for another 15
6. Garnish with coriander, spring onions, soy and
chilli oil.
This medicinal chicken bone soup is perfect medicine
during natural disasters and is based on a classic
Chinese chicken soup that most Asian families
know only too well. This can be prepared earlier in
a large stock pot and later reheated, or boil a fresh
batch at the village. Add as much vegetables as you
want to make this soup even more healthier.
3 whole chickens, cleaned and innards removed
1 bunch green spring onion
1 big knob of ginger (the more the better!),
washed and chopped into chunks
2 whole garlic, peeled and crushed
6 carrots, washed and chopped into chunks
1 bunch Chinese cabbage or moca
3 packets of dry or instant noodles
salt and white pepper.
1. Chop the chicken into medium-sized pieces.
2. Slice ginger (no need to peel), peel and smash
garlic, cut green onion into 3” pieces.
3. Place all ingredients except Chinese cabbage
and noodles into a large pot. Fill pot with water to
cover all ingredients
4. Bring the pot to the boil and reduce to low.
Cover pot, leaving a little opening (I use a wooden
spoon or spatula to prop up lid). Simmer for 2 hours.
5. Add the Chinese cabbage and noodles, cook for
another 5 minutes and serve

More Stories