Hot and Sour Soup for a Cold and Blustery Night

In honor of Chinese New Year today, I thought I’d post my recipe for Hot and Sour Soup.

As a staple in all Chinese restaurants and homes, there are infinite ways to prepare this satisfying tradition. My parents never used recipes, or wrote anything down while they cooked. That explains a lot about me, I know. I grew up knowing this soup by taste, by smell, by texture, and have always reproduced it in my kitchen accordingly. It was not until my friend Susan recently requested a cooking lesson, that I actually recorded (approximate) measurements for the ingredients. Don’t be deterred by the ingredients–a visit to your Asian market will lay your fears to rest. It’s so simple to make, you may never stop for take-out again. Just thank Susan.

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  • 1/4 c. dried black fungus (rinsed and reconstituted in warm water)
  • handful fresh enoki mushrooms (cut off root ends and separate from each other or use one can, drained)
  • 3 quarts water
  • 3 T. chicken boullion
  • 1 can bamboo strips
  • 1/2 can baby corn pieces
  • 3 T. soy sauce
  • 1 t. sesame oil
  • 1/2 c. white vinegar
  • 1 pkg. medium-firm tofu, cut in 1/4 in strips (will use about 3/4 pkg.)
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 2 rounded T. cornstarch in 1/3 c. water
  • 1 T. white pepper
  • 1/2 T. sugar
  • 1 t. chili garlic sauce
  • 1/4 c. marinated chicken or pork, cut into tiny strips (marinate strips in soy, pepper, a dash of sugar, and a drip of sesame oil overnight)
  • scallions for garnish

Begin by prepping the meat, by cutting into tiny strips, and marinating as directed. Cover in dish, and refrigerate overnight. In a large pot, bring first nine ingredients to a gentle boil. Carefully add the tofu. When soup is at a rolling boil, slowly stir in beaten eggs into the center of pot in a steady stream. Mix cornstarch mixture, and add to soup. Add pepper, sugar, and chili garlic sauce. Taste, and when all flavors are adjusted, add the pre-marinated chicken strips. If you’ve cut your meat up thin enough, this should only take a few minutes at a simmer. You don’t want to toughen the meat. Turn off heat when meat is cooked through. Serve garnished with diced scallions.

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