Hot and Sour Soup (Suan La Tang)
Yield 4 to 6 servings
Several ingredient lines are for divided quantities so read and follow the recipe carefully. This pot will easily serve 4 as a one-dish meal. Six people will require a few other dishes on the menu.
- 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt, plus more as needed
- 1 teaspoon plus 1 1/2 tablespoons regular or gluten-free soy sauce
- 1 teaspoon plus 1 tablespoon Shaoxing rice wine or dry sherry
- 2 teaspoons plus 1/4 cup cornstarch
- 6 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon water
- 4 to 5 ounces cooked beef steak or pork chop, or 5 to 6 ounces raw beef steak, boneless pork shoulder or loin, cut into scant 1/4-inch-thick matchsticks
- 1 tablespoon neutral oil, such as canola
- Chubby 1-inch section fresh ginger, peeled, halved lengthwise, and bruised
- 1/2 cup matchstick-cut bamboo shoots, or 30 dried tiger lily bulbs, soaked and trimmed of knobby ends
- 4 large dried shiitake mushrooms, or 4 small dried shiitake mushrooms plus 4 or 5 cloud/wood ear mushrooms, soaked, trimmed, and sliced
- 6 cups homemade lightly salted chicken stock or canned chicken broth
- About 3/4 teaspoon white pepper
- 8 ounces medium-firm or firm tofu, cut into 1/4-inch-thick matchsticks (see tofu buying guide for tips)
- 1 large egg beaten with 1 teaspoon sesame oil
- About 2 tablespoons Chinkiang vinegar, or 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar mixed with 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
- 1 green onion, white and green parts, thinly sliced, for garnish
- In a bowl, combine the 1/4 teaspoon salt, 1 teaspoon soy sauce, 1 teaspoon rice wine, 2 teaspoons cornstarch, and 1 teaspoon water. Add the beef or pork, stirring to coat well. Set aside.
- In a 3- or 4-quart pot, heat the oil over high heat. Add the ginger and cook, stirring frequently, for 1 minute, until the ginger is super fragrant. Add the bamboo shoot (or lily bulbs) and mushrooms, stir for about 15 seconds until you can smell their perfume, then add the stock.
- Bring to a boil, lower to a simmer, then add the remaining 1 1/2 tablespoons soy sauce and 1 tablespoon rice wine. Taste and season with salt and white pepper. Aim for a spicy kick and savory depth. (If not serving right away, turn off the heat and cover.)
- Before serving, return the soup to a simmer and add the pork and tofu, stirring to separate. Meanwhile, combine the remaining 1/4 cup cornstarch with the remaining 6 tablespoons water, stirring to dissolve.
- When the meat has just cooked through and the soup returns to a simmer, give the cornstarch a final stir, then gradually add to the soup. You may not need the entire amount. Aim to create a silky thick soup that’s not gloppy. The tofu should seem suspended in the soup but eventually fall to the bottom of the pot.
- When satisfied, give the egg a final stir, then pour it into the soup pot in a wide circle. Stir gently as the egg solidifies into suspended ribbons. Then add the vinegar, gently stirring. Taste and adjust the flavor with additional salt, white pepper, and/or vinegar. Ladle into a serving bowl or individual soup bowls. Scatter the green onion on top and serve immediately.
This recipe was very slightly tweaked from the one I have in Asian Tofu (Ten Speed Press, 2012).
Courses lunch, dinner
Recipe by Viet World Kitchen at https://www.vietworldkitchen.com/blog/2017/11/hot-sour-soup-recipe-suan-la-tang.html