Tuesday, November 09, 2010

What to substitute for bouillon cube

Being away from my source of bouillon cube has been a curse for many years. I had to wait for my next trip to France to buy some, or I had to add the little package to my wish list when my parents visited. This was one of the last items I decided I could only get there. (As a new immigrant I used to load my luggage with all sorts of things, but little by little I found my way around my local store's aisles and discovered substitutes for all these goodies.)

A box would last me nearly a year, so I always had supplies for the few recipes in which bouillon cubes seemed irreplaceable, like this beef and carrot stew.
I would use them very sparingly. But one day... months away from any trip to/from my bouillon cube paradise, I used the last cube in the box. Oh, horror! What was I going to do!!! The safety net was gone.

Rather than despair, I read the list of ingredients on the side of the box, in hopes that I would be able to come up with an equivalent mix of spices. Here's what I read:

Maggi's Kub Or ingredients:

  • salt, flavor enhancers, hydrogenated palm oil, natural flavors (wheat, soy), sugar, onion, glucose syrup, citric acid, garlic, coriander seeds; pepper, cloves, celery, and bay leaf extracts, preservatives.
I started realizing that there really wasn't any need to wait for a trip half way around the world to flavor my stews and soups! Half of the ingredients didn't need to be part of any recipe (flavor enhancers? Palm oil? Preservatives?). The other half (the actual spices) was widely available in California. So here is what I tried in my next beef and carrot stew, plus a few other meat or vegetable-only dishes.

Replacement for 1 bouillon cube:
  • 1 tbsp olive oil or butter
  • 1/2 fresh yellow onion, chopped
  • 2 fresh garlic cloves, peeled, halved, stem removed
  • 2 fresh or dried bay leaves
  • 3 sprigs fresh or dried thyme
  • 1 tsp whole coriander seeds, crushed
  • 1 tsp whole celery seeds, crushed
  • 2 whole cloves
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
It turned out beautifully every time. I didn't need to rely on scarce supplies anymore, and my dishes had become 100% natural.

And this is how the curse became a blessing :-)

PS: I sill love Kub Ors and recommend them if you can find them!


Paul and Roz said...

Just add a bouquet garni to your stews, simple.

Guillaume said...

Tiens je suis heureux de lire un nouveau billet.

Estelle said...

Paul and Roz, I agree that a bouquet garni is all you need most of the times. I was curious to know what else is in a bouillon cube...

Guillaume, contente de trouver a nouveau le temps d'ecrire !

Anonymous said...

Il faut quand même trouver tout les ingrédients et vu comment je galère pour trouver des courgettes... Mais bonne idée au cas où!

HookC said...

Fascinating discovery, both the gunk that’s in “cubes” and the healthy alternative. Question, though: do all the substitute ingredients when combined equal just a single bouillon cube? Or…?
Many thanks,