Chinese Hot and Sour Soup


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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 chilies - it's actually from freshly ground white pepper.

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  • 1 oz. boneless pork loin, cut into 1/4-inch-thick strips (2/3 C.)
  • 2 tsp. dark soy sauce
  • 4 small Chinese dried black mushrooms
  • 12 small dried tree ear mushrooms
  • 1 1/2 Tbs. cornstarch
  • 12 dried lily buds (sometimes called golden needles)
  • 1/2 C. canned sliced bamboo shoots, cut lengthwise into 1/8-inch-wide strips
  • 2 Tbs. red-wine vinegar
  • 2 Tbs. rice vinegar (not seasoned)
  • 1 Tbs. light soy sauce
  • 1 1/2 tsp. sugar
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt
  • 2 Tbs. peanut oil
  • 4 C. reduced-sodium chicken broth
  • 3 oz. firm tofu (about a quarter of a block), rinsed and drained, then cut into 1/4-inch-thick strips
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 tsp. Asian sesame oil
  • 1 1/2 tsp. freshly ground white pepper
  • 2 Tbs. thinly sliced scallion greens
  • 2 Tbs. fresh whole cilantro leaves

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Toss pork with dark soy sauce in a bowl until pork is well coated. Soak black and tree ear mushrooms in 3 C. boiling-hot water in another bowl (water should cover mushrooms), turning over black mushrooms occasionally, until softened, about 30 minutes. (Tree ears will expand significantly.) Cut out and discard stems from black mushrooms, then squeeze excess liquid from caps into bowl and thinly slice caps. Remove tree ears from bowl, reserving liquid, and trim off any hard nubs. If large, cut tree ears into bite-size pieces. Stir together 1/4 C. mushroom-soaking liquid (discard remainder) with cornstarch in a small bowl and set aside.

Meanwhile, soak lily buds in about 1 C. warm water until softened, about 20 minutes, then drain. Trim off tough tips of lily buds. Cut lily buds in half crosswise, then tear each half lengthwise into 2 or 3 shreds. Cover bamboo shoots with cold water by 2 inches in a small saucepan, then bring just to a boil (to remove bitterness) and drain in a sieve. Stir together vinegars, light soy sauce, sugar, and salt in another small bowl.

Heat a wok over high heat until a bead of water vaporizes within 1-2 seconds of contact. Pour peanut oil down side of wok, then swirl oil, tilting wok to coat sides. Add pork and stir-fry until meat just changes color, about 1 minute, then add black mushrooms, tree ears, lily buds, and bamboo shoots and stir-fry 1 minute.

Add broth and bring to a boil, then add tofu. Return to a boil and add vinegar mixture. Stir cornstarch mixture, then add to broth and return to a boil, stirring. (Liquid will thicken.) Reduce heat to moderate and simmer 1 minute.

Beat eggs with a fork and add a few drops of sesame oil. Add eggs to soup in a thin stream, stirring slowly in one direction with a spoon. Stir in white pepper, then drizzle in remaining sesame oil and divide among 6 to 8 bowls. Sprinkle with scallions and cilantro before serving.

Yield: 6-8 servings

From: Gourmet, January 2005

Reviews (1)

  • Hot and sour soup is one of my faves. I had a recipe that made a nice pot and I would enjoy it for days. My recipe had water chestnuts also. I always thought it seemed pretty healthy and then I read the comment about this being a Drs. cure. This is a really tasty soup. Very filling and good.

    Flag as inappropriate Bamagal  |  November 11, 2009

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