Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Hot and Soup Soup

I've been traveling lately and as often happens, I'm exposed to all kinds of germs. When that happens and I get home, I make Chinese Chicken Soup in the hopes of fighting everything off. But, when I do succumb to a cold, I always make Hot and Sour Soup. I was a rather sickly child and this was a staple soup of my childhood. It pretty much guarantees that I will better after I eat it. The hot is actually white pepper and the sour is actually vinegar and when you are a child, this actually does taste really hot!  For those people who are expecting the fire of red chiles, you may want to add some Sriracha or Chili Garlic Sauce to spice things up.  Chicken Soup has been proven to thin and clear phlegm and the other ingredients are so healthy!  The Mu'er Mushrooms thin and circulate the blood and vinegar is considered in Chinese Medicine to be antiseptic and antiviral. If you have had this marvelous soup in a Chinese restaurant and wondered how to make it, you need to try this - it's actually very easy and oh so good for you too!

Hot and Sour Soup

4 ounces boneless pork loin, cut into 1/4-inch-thick strips (2/3 cup)
2 Tablespoons Tamari
4 small Shitake Mushrooms
12 small dried Mu’er (Wood Ear, Tree Ear or Cloud Ear mushrooms)
2 Tablespoons + 1 teaspoon cornstarch
12 dried Lily Buds
1/2 cup canned sliced bamboo shoots, cut lengthwise into thin strips
3 - 4 tablespoons Chinese Black vinegar or unseasoned Rice Vinegar
1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
2 Tablespoons oil
5 cups chicken broth
4 oz firm tofu rinsed and cut into 1/4-inch strips
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons Asian Sesame Oil
1 teaspoons freshly ground white pepper
2 green onions, sliced into small pieces 
Coat pork with 1 Tablespoon Tamari and 1 teaspoon cornstarch in a bowl and set aside. Soak Shitake Mushrooms and Mu’er in boiling water to cover in another bowl for about ½ hour. Cut off stems from black mushrooms and thinly slice. Remove Mu’er from bowl and trim off any hard bits and cut into bite size pieces. Also soak Lily Buds in about 1 cup warm water until softened, about 20 minutes.  Remove from water and trim off tips. Cut into thin shreds.
Stir together 3 Tablespoons vinegar, Tamari and sugar in another small bowl.

Heat a frying pan or wok and add oil. Then add pork and stir-fry until it just changes color, then add Shitakes, Mu’er, Lily buds, and bamboo shoots and stir-fry for a few minutes.
Add broth and bring to a boil, then add tofu and vinegar mixture. Taste and add additional Tablespoon of vinegar if you like it more sour.  Stir cornstarch with a bit of water to make a slurry, then add to broth and return to a boil, stirring.

Beat eggs with a fork in a small bowl.  Pour eggs into soup slowly while stirring with a spoon. Add white pepper and Sesame Oil. Serve with a sprinkling of scallions.

Five Element Analysis

Soup is always considered part of the Water Element and the Pork, Shitake Mushrooms, Tamari and Sesame Oil and eggs contribute even more. This is an especially Watery Soup - perfect for when you are sick!  The Wood Element is represented by the Chicken Broth and vinegar. The White Pepper adds in the Fire Element and so do the Lily Buds.  The Earth Element comes from the Cornstarch and Sugar and the Metal Element is brought in by the Green Onions and Tofu.  This is a very balanced bowl of soup!

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