I have seven draft posts saved as we speak, but neither the time nor the attention span to finish any of them in a thoughtful manner right now. So I am totally copping out momentarily filling the void by presenting you with one of my mom’s delicious and authentic Chinese recipes: classic hot and sour soup. (Thanks to Jenny for the suggestion!) I realize there are no amounts here, so for that part, you’ll just have to feel things out.
- chicken broth (make your own by boiling a whole chicken, and you’ll have plenty of broth, as well as cooked chicken)
- cooked chicken, diced
- diced tomatoes, no skins (I used canned ones, myself)
- red bell pepper, diced
- carrot, diced
- dried wood ear mushrooms, softened and chopped
- bamboo shoots
- five-spice powder (optional)
- vermicelli noodles (also known as glass noodles)
- corn starch (or, even better, tapioca starch, since it leaves the soup clearer and prettier)
- eggs, beaten
- white vinegar or rice vinegar
- hot chili sauce
- green onion, chopped
- cilantro, chopped
- sesame oil
Cook the veggies in the broth, adding salt, sugar, and five-spice powder to taste. When carrots are soft, add small pieces of vermicelli. The easiest way to do this is to hold the dry vermicelli over the pot and use scissors to cut 1-inch-ish lengths into the soup. Add chicken, then thicken the soup with starch. Bring to a gentle boil and gently pour the eggs in a very thin stream into the boiling soup, using a circular motion. Do not stir the soup while pouring the egg. Turn off heat, cover, and let stand for half and hour. Add vinegar and chili sauce to taste. (This is the HOT and SOUR part of the soup, so I say be generous with both!) Add fresh green onion and cilantro and finish with a whiff of sesame oil. You may also add some tofu, which I love, but it doesn’t freeze well, so if you’re making a large batch, it’s probalby best to leave it out.
Ladle into bowls and add a small amount of soy sauce to each bowl, if desired. Eat up and enjoy the praise from everyone else at the table.