Some like it hot… and sour

Photo credit: Vivian Chan

From an early age, my brother, sister, and I have shared an insatiable fondness for hot and sour soup. Every Sunday, we would eagerly wait to see if mom and dad would be treating us to a lunch out that week. If we were so lucky, we knew we would likely be going to one of our favorite local Szechuan restaurants. Upon our arrival, our parents would ask us what we wanted to have – even though they already knew the answer. It was always the same: “Hot and sour soup!”

To this day, hot and sour remains one of my favorite feel-great, classic Chinese soups. The amazing part is that although it may not look it, hot and sour soup is actually quite simple to make. The hard part is finding the ingredients, which vary depending on regional differences.

Here is my variation on this old classic (serves a family of 4-6… for 2 days):

Ingredients:

  • 12 cups (or 3L) of homemade chicken or vegetable stock (If you don’t have stock, you can also use 500mL-1L of chicken or vegetable stock in combination with 8-10 cups of water)
  • 1 pork tenderloin (this is usually around 15 oz., or 0.45 kg), minced
  • 1 to 3 pieces of wood ear fungus depending on the size of the pieces (they may also come under the name black fungus or cloud ear fungus)
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Happy New Year!

What better way to ring in the New Year than with our first post!

Frosty winter days call for hot chocolate or a warm blanket in front of a fire. December 31st was no exception and brought forth images of a meaty stew or a steaming cup of soup. Keeping up with tradition, however, hot pot was on the menu and I wasn’t about to complain.

Growing up in a Chinese household, hot pots have replaced many a Thanksgiving and Christmas for our family. Cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes, and turkey were rare treats. A bit sad for some? Maybe. But the conviviality of cooking with family and friends around a common pot – adding your choice of meats or sides at will – is hard to beat. With a little preparation and good company, a hearty dinner is served with no one stuck in the kitchen doting over a turkey in the oven. Continue reading