Continuing on with the family-style-cooking theme of the previous thread, I served the Shanghai spring rolls with a hot and sour soup.
When I was younger, I was obsessed about soup. The Soup Nazi episode on Seinfeld always made me so furious that there was no soup chain in Brisbane. In Cantonese restaurants, I would mostly look forward to the free soup they served at the start of the meal.
I always thought my mum made the best soup. My favorites included plain chicken broth, vegetable stew and her hot and sour soup.
Chinese Hot and Sour Soup
Serves 2 people generously
- 3 dried shitake mushrooms
- 20g worth of dried lily flower buds
- 1 small pork loin chop (approx 100-150g), chopped into strips
- 200g of firm tofu, cut into matchsticks
- Chinese dark vinegar
- white pepper powder
- 3 x 250mL cans of chicken stock/chicken broth/water (I used water + a bit of chicken essence powder)
- 2 egg whites or 1 beaten egg
- 1 tbsp cornstarch
1. Soak the shitake mushrooms and lily flower buds in hot water, or in cold water and then put them in the microwave for 2min (time depends on strength of microwave). Once cool enough to handle, cut the stumps off the shitake mushrooms and cut them into strips.
2. Get all the ingredients ready...3. In a large wok, heat some vegetable oil until it is very hot. Stir-fry the pork strips until the color has changed. Reduce the heat to medium and add the water/stock. Once it is boiling, add the remainder of the ingredients.4. Reduce heat further and pop on the lid. Let the tofu tenderize over 5min or so.
5. Start adjusting the flavors - add a good dash on vinegar. Balance with white pepper and salt (I have a pepper/salt mix so I effectively added both at the same time). A bit of salt or chicken stock might be needed too. Everyone has different tastes but basically, you need to know that the 'hot' comes from white pepper and 'sour' comes from vinegar.6. Once you've got the flavors balanced, mix in the egg white slowly and let it break up like a mesh within the soup.
7. After all that, stir a bit of water into your corn starch and add this mix bit by bit to the soup. Keep stirring the soup - the idea is that you're trying to thicken it with the starch. As soon as it thickens, you can take the soup off the heat. Keep in mind that it will continue to thicken slightly from the residual heat.
8. Serve with a sprinkling of fresh shallots.
This soup is perfect for Winter. The pepper gives a lovely, mellow 'heat' - very pleasant for a sore throat.