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Chinese Hot and Sour Soup

This is one of my favourite authentic Chinese recipes. This is so easy to make. The surprise to me in this recipe is that the spiciness or heat comes from the white pepper that is added. I have always thought there was a sriachi or hot sauce. Nope, simply white pepper.

This recipe will come together much more smoothly if all the ingredients are chopped, measured and ready to add before beginning to cook. In French this is called mise en place, everything in its place. Chop, measure and line up the ingredients so you can focus on combining them in creating pure alchemy with this recipe for Hot and Sour Soup.

Many of the same ingredients are used over and over again in this cuisine. If you are a fan then it is worth building a pantry.


 Chinese Hot and Sour Soup

2/3 c. boneless pork loin, cut into 1/4 inch strips 
2 tsp. dark soy sauce
4 small Chinese dried shitake mushrooms
3/4 c. dried black fungus
1 1/2 tbsp. cornstarch
1/2 c. canned sliced bamboo shoots, cut lengthwise into 1/8 inch wide strips
2 tbsp. red wine vinegar
2 tbsp. rice vinegar, unseasoned
1 tbsp. light soy sauce
1 1/2 tsp. sugar
2 tbsp. vegetable oil for frying
4 c. using mushroom soaking liquid and sodium reduced chicken stock
3 to 4 oz. firm tofu, rinsed and drained, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
1 large egg
1 tsp. sesame oil
1 1/2 tsp. ground white pepper
2 tbsp. thinly sliced green onions
2 tbsp. fresh whole cilantro leaves
Toss pork with dark soy sauce until well coated. 

Soak shitake and black fungus in boiling hot water to cover, about 30 minutes.  Cut out and discard stems from shitakes, then squeeze excess liquid from caps and thinly slice. Squeeze liquid from black fungus. Trim any hard nubs. In another bowl, stir together 1/4 cup (60 mL) cooled mushroom soaking liquid with cornstarch and set aside.

Stir together vinegars, light soy sauce, sugar and salt. 

Heat a wok or heavy pan over high heat. Add vegetable oil and stir fry pork until it just changes colour, about one minute. Add shitake mushrooms, black fungus and bamboo shoots and stir fry one minute. 

Add stock and bring to a boil, then add tofu. Return to a boil and add vinegar mixture. Stir in cornstarch mixture and return to a boil. Liquid will thicken. Reduce heat to moderate and simmer one minute. 

Beat egg with a fork and add sesame oil. Add egg to soup in a thin stream, stirring slowly in one direction with a spoon. Stir in white pepper. Sprinkle with green onions and cilantro before serving.  Makes 6-8 first courses. (Adapted from Bruce Cost)

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