Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Childhood Favorites


When I was a kid, one of my favorites places to eat out was at a Chinese restaurant.  And one of my favorite things to eat there was Hot & Sour Soup.  It's strange to think that a kid would like a soup that's both spicy and sour and even has weird black mushrooms in it.  But I was a different kind of kid, I guess.  To this day, I still love hot and sour soup.  

You can use whatever kind of vinegar you want in this soup (except I wouldn't use a sweet one like balsamic).  According to the website Serious Eats, traditional Hot & Sour Soup uses a Chinese vinegar called Chinkiang vinegar, but they also suggest a close substitute is a mix of red wine vinegar and apple cider vinegar.  That's what I used in mine, and it was good.  You can get all fancy with your mushrooms and use some Asian varieties or even those weird black ones.  I was being a little lazy with mine and just used good old white mushrooms.  You could use red chili flakes instead of the Sriracha, but you may want to cook it a little longer to give the flakes time to break down a bit and heat up the soup.  You can also add pork or chicken to the soup if you'd like.  You could add baby corn, water chestnuts, bamboo shoots.  Add whatever you'd like.  It is your soup, right?

HOT & SOUR SOUP
8 ounces mushrooms, sliced
2 teaspoons ginger
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 lb firm tofu, cubed
1/4 to 1/2 C soy sauce
1/8 C red wine vinegar (or more, to taste)
1/8 C apple cider vinegar (or more to taste)
4 eggs
Sliced green onions (for garnish)
4 C chicken stock (a good rich, dark stock)
4 C beef stock
Chopped fresh cilantro (for garnish)
Wonton wrappers, cut into strips (optional)
Peanut oil, for frying
Sesame oil (for garnish)
Sriracha, to taste (or other hot sauce)

Put the chicken stock, beef stock, mushrooms, ginger, and garlic in a large pot and bring to a boil.  Boil for about 10 minutes.  

Meanwhile, if you are going to use the wontons as garnish, heat a little peanut oil in a small skillet and fry the wonton strips quickly in batches.  It doesn't take them long, so don't walk away from them.  Drain them on a paper towel.

Add the 1/4 C soy sauce, Sriracha, and the vinegars to the soup and stir.  Taste to see if you'd like more soy sauce or vinegar (I like a lot).  Add the tofu to the soup.  Beat the eggs in a separate bowl.  While stirring the soup in a circular motion, slowly pour the eggs into the soup.  Cook for another couple of minutes to cook the egg.  Serve the soup with some green onions, the wonton strips, some cilantro, and a few drops of sesame oil over the top.

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