Hot and sour soups are found throughout southeast Asia. The soup has satisfying, mellow flavors from the tingling warmth of the chile pepper balanced by the sour note of the vinegar. You could replace the pork with thinly sliced chicken breast or replace the meat with more vegetables for a vegetarian soup. If you’ve it, Chinese black vinegar is good in this soup.
- 4 dried shiitake mushrooms
- 21⁄2 cups chicken or vegetable stock
- a small piece of ginger, finely sliced
- 1–2 red chile peppers, seeds removed and thinly sliced
- 31⁄2oz (100g) bamboo shoots, cut in matchsticks
- 31⁄2oz (100g) lean pork, thinly sliced
- 31⁄2oz (100g) firm tofu, shredded or diced
- 1 tbsp soy sauce
- salt to taste
- 1–2 tbsp rice vinegar
- 1 tbsp cornstarch
- 1 egg
- 1 tsp sesame oil
- 2 scallions, finely sliced
Directions: soak the dried shiitake in warm water for about 30 minutes. Drain, remove the stalks, and slice the caps finely. Bring the stock to a simmer in a big saucepan, add the ginger, chile, mushrooms, bamboo shoots, and pork. Cover and simmer for 10 minutes. Add the tofu, salt, soy sauce,and vinegar. Taste to ensure a good balance between the chile heat and the vinegar. Mix the cornstarch to a paste with 2 tbsp water, and when the soup begins to bubble again stir half of it in. Simmer the soup over very low heat. It should thicken slightly. Add extra cornstarch as needed, but don’t let it become gluey. Beat the egg lightly and pour it into the soup through a strainer or the tines of a fork so that it sets in light strands. Stir in the sesame oil and scallions, and serve at once.