Swanson Chicken Broth
Swanson is one of Hong Kong's most loved brands and recently released this MSG-free product. But it still contains additives and flavour enhancers.
The stock has a full, meaty umami flavour that works well in soups and other dishes that don't need to be cooked for long, but can become quite salty when reduced. It should be diluted slightly before it is used.
HK$25, Oliver's the Delicatessen, 3/F, Prince's Building, Central
Swanson Certified Organic Chicken Broth
Intended for the US market, this broth is certified organic and uses free-range chickens that are free of hormones and antibiotics. It uses cane juice as a sweetener, but the variety of vegetables it contains, including spinach and celery, makes it less suitable for dishes that rely on the taste of the stock, such as risotto or Asian noodle soups. It does, however, complement meat dishes.
HK$35, ThreeSixty, 3/F, The Landmark, Central
Heinz Chicken Broth
This is the thickest of all the stocks, and is meant to have a rich, hearty, full flavour owing to the chicken fat that has been added to the recipe. Unfortunately, however, the saltiness of this broth lets it down. In fact, the salt and MSG are so overpowering that I could taste little else. Even after dilution, it was the taste of salt that stood out. It is difficult to think of a use for this, except perhaps as brine.
HK$16.90, ParknShop International, citywide
Pacific Natural Foods Organic Free Range Chicken Stock
Peace of mind is the main value of this broth. Not only is it certified organic by Oregon Tilth, a non-profit US organisation, the brand also guarantees to track the source of all its ingredients to ensure they are all organic. Like the Swanson broth, cane juice is used for sweetness, which gives a vegetable-like freshness (the only other vegetable used is onion) and a little more body and smoothness.
HK$36, City'super, citywide
Chef Jacket Pax Chicken Stock - Blonde
The rudimentary packaging suggests smaller-scale production, and this product is closest to a home-made stock. The flavours are light, with subtle aromas of bay leaves and vegetables such as celery. It has no additives, preservatives or salt, and works well in stews and other slow-cooked dishes, although the taste of the vegetables will make it less suitable for Chinese cooking, which favours pure chicken flavour.
HK$96, City'super, citywide