Friday, June 13, 2014

How To Make Hot And Sour Soup

How To Make Hot And Sour Soup One of the many underrated examples of outstanding Chinese cuisine, the typical hot and sour soup that you encounter in most Chinese restaurants is K-mart cheap and a mere ghost of the many variations of this amazing elixir. Equally dumbfounding is the crude and merely descriptive name for this dish, which seem to be an off and on, mixed bag for Chinese dish names in restaurants. In one region the soup is known as suan la tang.

Hot and sour soup is complicated and the timing is rather difficult. It calls for the essential dried vegetables, which are rarely present in restaurant versions:

-Tiger lilly buds, dried mushrooms (shiitake in Japanese), and tree fungus

The main ingredients include:

-Marinated pork, tofu, egg, and bamboo shoot

It gets its name from the use of:

-Vinegar and chili (black pepper is sometimes used but considered crude)

There are many variations on the dish, and many more of the dried herbs and vegetables that I've listed here, and probably my favorite one comes from Szechuan with their great big black chili pods.

The dish starts with a typical Chinese chicken stock base (use lots of ginger), and the 30-minute marinade for the shredded pork (loin is best) includes sesame oil, garlic, ginger, and soy sauce. The soup begins with the dry ingredients (rehydrated and cut beforehand), followed by the meat.

After five minutes or so, add the bamboo and beat one or two eggs. Add the tofu. When the soup starts to boil, add the egg a little at a time and gently whisk it into strands. Have a quarter cup of vinegar (rice is best- nothing strongly flavored) and a few tablespoons of dark soy sauce ready and add those now.

Next, add a quarter of a cup of cornstarch mixed with an equal amount of water. Add it gradually; you may not need it all.

Finally, top it off with a handful or two of chopped green onions and red chili to taste. Enjoy your suan la tang. by Walter Kampmann

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