Hot & Sour Soup
This authentic soup is essentially an ancient doctor's curative that combines the healing magic of chicken broth, the circulation-enhancing qualities of tree fungus and lily buds, and the antiseptic properties of vinegar. The heat isn't from chiles — it's actually from freshly ground white pepper - Epicurious
Hot Sour Soup is very popular in Chinese restaurants all over the United States. Being a Cantonese (South), I never grew up with this soup as it was originally from the Northern part of China. Over the years I have grown to love the robust flavor and interesting textures of this soup and have adapted from various recipes and came up with my very own version with a slight south-east-asian flair. Besides flavoring it with white pepper for the 'hot part', I like to add either fresh Thai (bird) chillies or ground dried roasted Thai pepper for extra kick. Black Chingkiang vinegar is a must for the earthy smooth vinegery flavor for the `sour part'.
HOT AND SOUR SOUP (6 – 7 servings)
1. ½ cup dried wood ears
6 dried Chinese mushrooms
1 pound tofu (soft/silken)
1 cup bamboo shoots
2. ½ pound lean pork or chicken, julienned
1Tbs. soy sauce
1 tsp. sesame oil
1 tsp. cornstarch
1 Tbs. oil
1 tsp. dried crushed peppers
3. 8 cups unsalted chicken broth
1 tsp. sugar
1 tsp. salt
¼ cup Chingkiang vinegar or according to taste
¼ cup soy sauce
Thickener : 4 Tbs. cornstarch + ¼ cup water
4. 2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 tsp. sesame oil
1/4 c. minced scallions
1. Soak wood ears and Chinese mushrooms in warm/hot water for about 30 minutes in separate bowls. Cut wood ears, mushrooms, tofu and bamboo shoots intothin long strips (julienne).
2. Combine the pork with soy sauce, sesame oil, and cornstarch. Set aside for 15 minutes. Heat 1 Tbs. oil in a soup pot, sear the pork, stirring quickly and add the dry roasted chillies/peppers. Add in wood ears, mushrooms and bamboo shoots and cook for 1 minute.
Pour in the chicken broth, sugar and salt. Add vinegar, soy and pepper. Bring broth to a boil and add in tofu, cook another 3 – 4 minutes. Season according to taste.
3. Stir in thickener and cook until thickened. Drizzle in the egg to form ribbons. Garnish soup with a few drops of sesame oil and green onions.