Tuesday, 18 March 2008

Sichuan hot and sour soup

The weather was horrid over the weekend. The wind was howling, there was horizontal rain and it was just plain nasty. On a day like that, I just felt like something warm and comforting, like soup. The monthly soup-making event, No Croutons Required, is hosted by Tinned Tomatoes this month and calls for soups that are spicy.

Hot and spicy on a cold and damp day sounded good to me. I decided to go for a Sichuan hot and sour soup. You might have come across this at your local Chinese restaurant. Sichuan cuisine is known for its intense flavours and for being hot and spicy. This soup is quite thick in texture and is also rather chunky with a variety of mushrooms and fungus and tofu. The heat is provided by the minced garlic and ginger, as well as white pepper and chilli oil.

Sichuan hot and sour soup 1

Two of the ingredients that I used in this soup are dried lily buds and wood ear fungus. Just like dried shitake mushrooms, these need to be reconstituted in hot water before further cooking. You can buy them in most Oriental/Chinese food stores.

Dried lily buds and woodear fungus

Ingredients (serves 2-3):

1 clove garlic, minced
1 tbsp minced/grated fresh ginger
500ml stock (chicken or vegetable)
3 dried shitake mushrooms
2-3 pieces of wood ear fungus
A small bunch of dried lily buds
2 tbsp black vinegar (I used Chinkiang brand)
1 tbsp light soy sauce
2 tbsp corn flour (mixed with 2 tbsp cold water)
1/4 tsp white pepper
1/4 tsp chilli oil
Firm tofu, cut into small cubes
A small bunch of enoki mushrooms
1 egg, beaten (which I didn't use because I forgot!)
1 spring onion, chopped


1. Soak the dried shitake, wood ear fungus and dried lily buds in hot water for 15 minutes. Cut off the stalks of the shitake and hard tips of the lily buds and shred all of them into thin strips. Cut off the base of the enoki mushrooms and slice the long thing stalks into half. Separate the stalks loosely.

2. Heat a little oil in a pan and fry off the garlic and ginger until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Pour in the stock and bring to the boil. Add the shitake, wood ear fungus and dried lily buds and simmer for 10 minutes.

3. Season the soup with black vinegar and soy sauce. Add the tofu and enoki mushrooms and simmer for a minute to heat through. Add the corn flour mixture and simmer to thicken the soup. Finally, drizzle thin streams of the beaten egg into the soup slowly while stirring to form thin threads.

4. Finish off with white pepper and chilli oil (vary the amount to taste), stir to mix and serve hot. Garnish with chopped spring onions.

Sichuan hot and sour soup 2

(Tip: I have been told that balsamic vinegar makes a decent substitute for Chinese black vinegar. I have not tried it myself so let me know if it works!)


noobcook said...

nice!!! :)~ This is the only dish my hub has successfully cooked for me b4 (a long, long time ago, heh). I must bug him to cook it again for me in future , keke

Pixie said...

Dried lily buds are so pretty, I'll have to look for them next time. A wonderful comforting soup, mmmmm.

Little Corner of Mine said...

To me, this soup needs skill to make because too much of vinegar spoil it or too much/too little of something and the soup tasted weird. Even the restaurants sometimes failed in this soup. Oh, I used red wine vinegar instead of black vinegar in making this soup.

Kevin said...

That soup sounds really tasty.

Rasa Malaysia said...

Nimandra, I wanted to have a bowl of this. This is low fat and good for fighting my fat cells. LOL.

Nilmandra said...

noobcook: I agree that the soup from your hubby is long overdue!

Pixie: You can use the lily buds in a vegetable stir fry too, with dried shitake and other veg. I've got it on a draft recipe somewhere, got to post it some time soon.

Little corner: That is true. I think I like more vinegar than the husband so he didn't like this as much as my other soups. I'll get him to put his own vinegar next time :p Red wine vinegar? That's an idea, thanks!

Thanks, Kevin!

Rasa Malaysia: LOL I'm sure you have plenty of delicious diet food up your talented sleeves anyway ;) The days of the fat cells are numbered!

gaga said...

i just found your blog today and am loving it. your soup looks delicious.

Ricki said...

This is one of my favorite soups ever, so can't wait to try it! Luckily there's a huge Chinatown in Toronto. . .

Nilmandra said...

Gaga: Thanks! Hope you enjoy the recipes and check back often :)

Ricki: Lucky you indeed! I wish I have a Chinatown at my disposal... If you do make the soup, watch out for the amounts of dark vinegar. It is very strong and a little too much will taste like waaaay too much. Just do it to taste :)

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