Prepared at home, you can splurge on earthy shiitake mushrooms and crunchy lily buds and bamboo shoots. It's a quick easy soup that satisfies my sour tastebuds and love of textures. It's also great for when I was feeling under the weather.
Chinese Hot and Sour Soup
For a 2-quart pot:
1/2 cup of minced or thinly sliced shrimp, chicken, or pork
6 shiitake mushrooms, soaked, stems removed, and sliced into thin strips
1/4 cup Tree Ear Fungus, soaked
1/4 cup lily buds, soaked and strands separated
1/2 cup bamboo shoots, cut into strips
1/2 package of tofu, sliced into strips
1 tblsp corn starch
About 2 tblsp soy sauce
About 1/2 cup Chinese black vinegar (or substitute with rice vinegar or red wine vinegar)
About 2 tblsp rice vinegar
About 2 tsp sesame oil
About 1 tsp ground white pepper (or substitute with ground black pepper or chili pepper)
Shiitake mushrooms, tree ear fungus, and lily buds need to be soaked for at least 20 minutes to be rehydrated. You can speed up the process by soaking them in boiling water. Don't worry if they're not completely softened, a little time in the soup pot will take care of that.
Fill your pot about halfway with water and set it to boil.
Peel shrimp and toss the shells into the water to flavor the broth.
If you're using chicken or pork, slice them first, and saute the meat in a small drizzle of sesame oil in the pot until almost cooked and then add water. You can omit meat entirely if you're vegetarian as the vinegar and soy sauce will give the soup plenty of flavoring. Now go about mincing and slicing. You can buy many of the ingredients pre-sliced for ease.
From the top middle and going clockwise: tofu, tree ear fungus, bamboo shoots, shrimp, lily buds, and shiitake mushrooms.
When the water has boiled, scoop out the shrimp shells and add in all the ingredients you've just minced and sliced. Add more water to the pot if the ingredients make the soup too dense.
Beat two eggs in a bowl and slowly pour eggs into the pot, stirring all the while to create rivulets of "egg drops." Do this before adding in the vinegar or the egg won't form rivulets and will just turn the broth murky.
Turn heat down to medium-low to let the soup simmer. Dissolve 1 tblsp of cornstarch to a bit of cold water and add that to the pot to thicken the soup. Add just a drizzle of sesame oil. Then start adding in various amounts of soy sauce, vinegar, and pepper to your taste. Chinese black vinegar is milder than other varieties but doesn't have a harsh aftertaste.
Allow the soup to simmer for about 10 minutes so the flavors can meld before you taste it again and decide to add in more seasoning. I ended up using roughly 1/2 cup of Chinese black vinegar and a few tblsp of rice vinegar, and several tblsps of soy sauce. It seems like a lot of vinegar, but this is actually the norm to achieve the right degree of sourness for this soup. As for the white pepper, you want to just be able to taste it, but don't actually want it to be spicy. As always, adjust according to your tastes.
Who made my recipe for Chinese hot and sour soup?
Lisa of U-Handbag said, "...works a treat. Yum!"