Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Hot and sour soup

In an attempt to alleviate some of our cravings and missing the many things that we can't get here and in response to statements that start out like 'remember when we used to live in a place that had restaurants, and proper food stores, and there were actually fun things to do and places to go, and....' well, you get the picture, I am now on a quest to learn how to make the things that we used to go to restaurants for.

In Jakarta, almost every weekend, as the first meal of the day we used to head to a Chinese restaurant. There we would have the most delicious hand pulled noodles in a chicken broth, dumplings and hot and sour soup.

While I'm a long, long way off mastering the hand pulled noodle, I reckon I've done pretty well in the hot and sour soup department. Last night was the second time I made this. The second time was much better than the first - in fact it was pretty damn good. This recipe is put together from about six different recipes I found trawling the internet.

For the hot and sour soup you will need:

makes 4 large servings
  • 8 cups chicken stock
  • 1/2 block of firm tofu (cut into small squares)
  • 1 dozen large shrimp
  • 1 cup cooked chicken (I used the chicken left over from the stock I made, you can use whatever cooked chicken you have, or alternatively pork or skip this altogether).
  • 8 dried shitake mushrooms (soaked in hot water for at least 30 minutes - reserve the liquid for later)
  • 20 dried lily buds (soaked in hot water for 15 minutes) (great if you can get them but not the end of the world if you can't)
  • 10 dried tree (ear) mushrooms (soaked in hot water for at least 30 minutes) (again, great if you can get these, but not necessary)
  • 3/4 cup bamboo shoots (canned are fine)
  • 6 tablespoons rice vinegar (you may need more to taste)
  • 3 tablespoons light soy (you may need more to taste)
  • Salt (to taste)
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 2 teaspoons sesame oil
  • 3-4 tablespoons of corn starch
  • 2 tablespoons freshly ground black pepper (you may need more to taste - this is the key ingredient, it's what gives the hot in the hot and sour).
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup chopped spring onions (scallions)
  • 1/2 cup chopped coriander leaves
  1. Cut the chicken, shrimp, mushrooms (discard the stems), lily buds and bamboo shoots into little, tiny square pieces that are reasonably uniform in size.
  2. Bring the stock to a boil.
  3. Stir together around 1/2 a cup of the liquid reserved from soaking the shitake mushrooms with the corn starch. Set aside.
  4. Stir together the vinegar, soy sauce, sugar, sesame oil and salt in a bowl.
  5. Add the chopped chicken, mushrooms, lily buds and bamboo shoots to the stock. Bring to boil.
  6. Stir in vinegar mixture.
  7. Stir in corn starch mixture. The soup will thicken.
  8. Return to boil.
  9. Add chopped shrimp and tofu.
  10. Simmer for one minute.
  11. Beat eggs with a fork. Stir soup in one direction and add beaten eggs to soup in a thin stream.
  12. Stir in pepper.
  13. Season to taste - you may need to add additional vinegar, soy sauce and some sauce.
  14. Sprinkle chopped spring onions and coriander.
That's it!

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