A restaurant in Bangkok has a stew for 45 years. Restauranteur Nattapong Kaweenuntawong, who runs Wattana Panich restaurant, works the kitchen with his mother, who is the main chef. For the past 45 years, their main dish has been the “neua tune,” which uses the same broth every day.
The process actually gives the broth its unique flavour.
The stew uses an ancient cooking method that has been known as “hunter’s stew” in other cultures. The process involves keeping the broth, which actually makes the broth tastier the longer you cook it. Each night, the broth is saved for the next day, when it is poured back into the giant wok-like pan where it simmers all day with servings being ladled out. The soup starts with the broth, but then receives noodles, stewed beef, raw sliced beef, meatballs, tripes, and other internal organs.
The stew is the basis of the family business, where mother and son do the cooking and Nattapong’s wife takes care of the rest. The restaurant is third generation, with Nattapong’s three children lining up to take charge in the fourth generation.
Evidence of the 45-year tradition can be seen just by taking in the pan. There’s a thick ring that at first sight appears to be a layer of clay. Actually, it’s the accumulation of 45 years of stew being spilled over the edge. Other concerns about cleanliness pop up, but the practice of a perpetual soup is actually fairly safe. As long as the pot is mostly depleted, and only a bit of the broth is left to help flavour the next day’s servings, it should be fine.
The broth should be refrigerated overnight, and the skin that forms on the top—the fat from the soup where the bacteria builds up—should be skimmed off and discarded. The new soup should also be simmered for at least 20 minutes before serving. That means you can either get your own pot started, or visit Wattana Panich the next time you’re in Bangkok.