Thursday, April 21, 2011

Chinese Hot and Sour Soup

Chinese Hot and Sour Soup is my daughter's favorite kind of soup. I like the fact that the soup is filled with healthy tofu and mushrooms.  So I had to learn to make it myself and found out it's very easy to make at home.  My version strays from the traditional by using more easily found mushrooms and ingredients.  But it still delivers on the Ying and Yang of the traditional Hot and Sour Soup.

Ingredients at a glance:
  • 1 32oz cartoon of chicken broth (equals 4 cups)
  • 1/2 slab of organic firm tofu (drain and press the extra liquid out of the tofu then cut into thin strips)
  • 5oz of lean pork sliced into thin strips (marinate in 1tsp of soy sauce and 1tsp of cornstarch for 2 hours)
  • 1 Tbs of grated ginger
  • 1 Tbs of grated garlic
  • 1 bunch of scallions divided (green tops and white bottoms separated)
  • 1/2 cup of bamboo shoots thinly sliced into strips
  • 1/2 cup of canned sliced button mushrooms
  • 1 Tbs of cornstarch mixed with 4 Tbs of water
  • 1 egg beaten

Note:  have all your ingredients ready to go (sliced and prepped)  This will make the whole process go by faster.

Sauce:  If a range is given, I suggest you start with the lower quantities of each item and add more if needed

  • 1-2 Tbs of soy sauce (adjusted if needed)
  • 1-2 Tbs of rice wine vinegar (adjusted if needed)
  • 1-2 Tbs of cider vinegar (adjusted if needed)
  • 2 Tbs of sesame (use full amount here)
  • 1-2 Tbs of red chili sambal --such as Sambal Oelek (adjusted if needed)
  • 1 tsp of brown sugar
  • Mix all ingredients and set aside until cooking time.

Notes:  The quantities used in the sauce depends on your tastes.  If you use sodium free chicken broth or like things more salty use the 2Tbs of soy sauce.  In regards to the vinegar, use the lower quantity suggested and allow the soup to simmer for 10 minutes and taste before adding more vinegar.  Remember you can always add more, but you cannot take out.  To make the soup taste authentic there must be a distinct sour (from the vinegar) and hot from the sambal to make it balance in flavor.


In a large wok or soup pot, heat on med-high heat.  Add 1 Tbs of canola oil and stir fry the sliced pork for 1-2 minutes. 

Add the grated ginger and garlic and allow to stir fry for another minute.

Add the canned mushrooms, bamboo shoots and whites of the scallions and stir fry for another minute or two.

Add the sauce and stir fry for another 1 minute.

Add the cartoon of chicken broth and the sliced tofu.  Allow to simmer for 20 minutes.  Taste at the 10 minute mark to see if your flavors are how you want them.  If not, adjust accordingly.

Increase the heat to high and once bubbling, add the cornstarch and water mixture (called a slurry).  Stir well.  This will thicken the soup.

Then slowly add the beaten egg in a stream and stir gently.  The egg will cook in the hot soup.

Taste one more time for the balance of the hot and sour flavors.  If you are happy with them, you can turn off the soup and add the green tops of the scallions.   Serve Hot.

Serves 3-4 people as a meal or 6-8 people as a starter.  Enjoy.