Thursday, October 25, 2012

Hot n' Sour Soup

It's hard not to say that this is my favorite soup, because it really IS in my top fave's.
Soup is my favorite food for sure, how can I choose?

My Mom's been making this for a long time.
Even back in the 1970's, ... kinda unusual back then, if I don't mind saying so.
I'd never made this before this year, though I remember hand carrying my Mom's handwritten index card recipe with me to make as an exchange student in Scotland. Funny, I never did make it.  While Chinese food was big ethnic food in the Northwest, I was introduced to East Indian food in Scotland in the 1980's.  Wow.... but that is another blog posting altogether.  Even though I couldn't find that index card (its here somewhere...) I did remember the book my Mom always used; "Madame Wu's Chinese Cooking".

This is more, or less, Madame Wu's recipe, but you can make it your own.  I like my soup a bit more sour (more vinegar) and spicier (more chili garlic sauce) so I did it accordingly, just like my Mom's version. 

My picture doesn't do it justice, it a more pretty soup than it appears. 

Hot n' Sour soup is a simple dish to make, and most of the ingredients are easy to find.  The hardest ingredient to find is "preserved vegetable". I remembered the can my Mom used to buy, red and yellow... strangely enough, I was able to find it immediately in my Asian grocery. Woo hoo, I was happy.
Weird stuff...
Fermented, pickled vegetable root in hot pepper sauce.
Ugly, stinky but completely 100% necessary for the yummiest of Chinese food I know. I bought this can at the local H-Mart, but when I went back to get more, they had rearranged the shelves and it was no where to be seen. The manager said they didn't have it anymore, even when I showed him the picture I had taken with my phone.My husband, who loves a challenge, found me four cans of pre-shredded canned "vegetable" at an Asian grocery near his work.  I love a man with a mission... that is, a mission to eat and make his wife happy!

Serves 4-6 (main dish or side dish)

8 cups broth, vegetable or chicken
1/2 oz. dried shitake, or black fungus mushrooms OR 8 oz. fresh mushroom, cut into strips
1 stalk celery, cut into 2" long very thin strips
1 large carrot, cut into 2" long very thin strips
1/2  white onion, cut into thin strips
1 cup preserved vegetable "pickle" cut into 2" long very thin strips
1 cup firm tofu, cut into strips
1 can bamboo shoots, in strips
2 eggs, beaten
3 Tbsp corn starch
3 Tbsp vinegar, rice or white
1 tsp sesame oil
1-2 Tbsp garlic red pepper paste (sambal)
1 Tbsp soy sauce
8oz chicken breast or pork tenderloin, cook and cut into thin strips

Green onions, thinly sliced, for a garnish (if desired)

Start by slicing all your veggies (carrots, celery, fresh mushrooms, bamboo shoots, onions, "pickle") into 2" thin matchsticks and tofu and meat (if using) into thin strips. Set aside and have ready to go.

***If you are using dried mushrooms, soak in hot water for 5 minutes, then cut into strips.

Assemble the rice vinegar, sesame oil, soy sauce, hot pepper sauce and corn starch.  Mix together into a "slurry", stirring until smooth.  Set aside to add to the soup later.  Beat the eggs in a small bowl and set aside also.

Finally, in a large soup pot, heat up the broth until simmering, add the veggies and the meat.  Stir and cook for 1-2 minutes. The meat is cut thinly enough that it cooks quickly and you want the veggies to stay crisp.  Add the tofu and stir gently.  Turn the heat up to medium high, and while at a low boil, add the corn starch "slurry" and stir well. This mixture thickens the soup.  As the mixture boils gently, add the beaten eggs, stirring well.  Cook for 1-2 more minutes. Taste and adjust seasoning... you might need more vinegar, hot pepper sauce or soy sauce depending on your tastes and moods.

1 comment:

  1. Very interesting Piper. I've always heard of this but order wonton soup instead. Must try.