Recipe Chinese hot and sour soup

medtran49

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When I was in my 20s, I worked at a place where we had auditors come in once a month. One of the lady auditors always and I mean ALWAYS wanted to order Chinese because, according to her, the restaurant that we got takeout from had the best Hot and Sour soup she'd ever had. I would never try it because it just didn't sound appealing at all to me. Well, I came across this recipe within the last couple of years and given how much my tastes have changed and how she always raved about it, decided we needed to try it. I LOVE this soup! I've still never had it from a Chinese restaurant and probably never will given how much I love this recipe. Hope you love it too if you make it. The original recipe came from Epicurious Chinese Hot and Sour soup but I've added a couple of things, increased amounts of several things, as well as tweaked the technique to make it to our taste.

I would start with the smaller amounts of the vinegars and the white pepper as they are where the sourness and the spice come from. However, if you know you like spice, then use the larger amount of pepper, and you may want even more!

This can easily be made ovo-vegetarian by substituting tofu for the pork and vegetable broth for the chicken broth.

As with any stir-fry type meal, you need to have everything in place before starting. It takes a while to prep, but nearly all of it can be done while the dried mushrooms and lily buds are soaking.

makes 2-4 servings

6 ounces boneless pork tenderloin, cut into 1/4-inch-thick strips (2/3 cup)
2 tsp light soy sauce, Pearl River Bridges brand is great!
6 small Chinese dried black mushrooms
12 small dried tree ear mushrooms
1-1/2 Tbsp cornstarch
12 dried lily buds (sometimes called golden needles)
1/2 cup (4 oz) canned sliced bamboo shoots, cut lengthwise into 1/8-inch-wide strips
1 Tbsp minced garlic
1 Tbsp minced ginger
3 to 3-1/2 Tbsp red-wine vinegar
3 to 3-1/2 Tbsp unseasoned rice vinegar
1 Tbsp light soy sauce
1-1/2 tsp sugar
1 tsp kosher salt
2 Tbsp peanut oil or vegetable oil
4 cups unsalted chicken broth
2 large eggs
2 tsp sesame oil
2 to 2-1/2 tsp freshly ground white pepper
2 Tbsp thinly sliced scallions, greens and whites
2 Tbsp fresh whole cilantro leaves

Toss pork with soy sauce in a bowl until pork is well coated.

Place black and tree ear mushrooms in a large heat-proof bowl and pour in 3 cups boiling-hot water and soak until softened, turning over black mushrooms occasionally, about 30 minutes. The tree ear mushrooms will expand significantly. Cut out and discard stems from black mushrooms, then squeeze excess liquid from caps into a small bowl and thinly slice caps. Remove tree ears from bowl and trim off any hard nubs, slicing into bite-size pieces as necessary. Add enough remaining mushroom soaking liquid into small bowl to make 1/4 cup and add cornstarch, stir, then set aside.

Meanwhile, soak lily buds in about 1 cup 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.

In a small saucepan, cover bamboo shoots with cold water by 2 inches, bring just to a boil, then drain in a colander. This will remove any bitterness.

Combine vinegars, light soy sauce, sugar, and salt in another small bowl.

Heat a wok or a casserole/dutch oven type saucepan over high heat until a bead of water vaporizes within 1 to 2 seconds of contact. Pour peanut or vegetable oil into pan, then swirl, tilting to coat lower sides and bottom well. Add pork and stir-fry until meat just changes color, about 1 minute. Remove pork with a slotted spoon. Then, add black mushrooms, tree ears, lily buds, bamboo shoots, garlic and ginger and stir-fry 1 minute.

Add broth and bring to a boil. Add vinegar mixture and return to a boil. Stir cornstarch mixture again, then add to broth and return to a boil, stirring. Broth will thicken slightly. Reduce heat to moderate and simmer 1 minute. Return pork to pan.

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. Divide among 2-4 bowls. Sprinkle with scallions and cilantro, then serve.
 
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The Late Night Gourmet

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This looks dynamite. One thing I can't stand in a hot and sour soup is when restaurants skimp on the ingredients. That's certainly not the case here! I've never tried using white pepper in my hot and sour soup recipes, but I will try that sometime (it's an ingredient I forget about frequently). I've found that the rice vinegar contributes nicely to the sourness, and I usually chop up a fresh pepper. But, the great thing about using white pepper is that I could make this recipe at any time without having to buy any special ingredients (I have canned bamboo shoots, dried mushrooms, and even dried lilies in my cabinet, and I usually have scallions and fresh ginger at any given time).
 

medtran49

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I keep the dried mushrooms and lily buds together in a 2-gallon bag in our refrigerator. I wasn't too sure how the lily buds would do in the cabinet over a long period of time. It's amazing how MUCH the tree ears expand isn't it? I remember the first time thinking holy ...t!

And for those of you that don't like mushrooms because of the texture, these are chewy and have more of a meaty texture when they are rehydrated.
 
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