It's all in the stock...<br>
As with French cuisine, the secret of a good Chinese soup lies in the stock. What is stock? Basically, it's a liquid broth in which meat, bones, and sometimes vegetables have been simmered over a long period of time, imparting their flavor to the heated broth. Chicken is the meat of choice for preparing Chinese stock, <b>although pork is also used,</b> <b>particularly in addition to chicken</b>. (Beef is thought to add too strong a flavor). The Chinese place such importance on their stock that they have two categories.<br><br>
A primary or first class chicken stock is made by simmering a whole chicken, while a second class stock uses only the bones. There is also gourmet stock, a truly superior broth made with chicken, pork ribs and other pork bones, ham, and sometimes duck. It is used to create banquet dishes such as Shark's Fin soup.<br><br>
Besides not using beef, Chinese stock also differs from French stock (known as fonds de cuisine) in the <b>lack of spices</b>. While a recipe for French chicken stock might call for a pinch of tyme or a few garlic cloves, the Chinese believe spicing masks the flavor of the chicken or pork. Seasonings are added later, depending on what the individual recipe calls for.