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Hot and sour soup

"This is surely one of the most recognisable dishes in China and is known everywhere in the West. This classic probably had its roots in Beijing, though it is claimed by Sichuan and Hunan as well. It originally called for chicken's or duck's blood but I must confess that I'm quite happy to do without. The heat of the soup relies not so much on chilli but black pepper instead" - Tony Tan

You'll need

150 gm lean pork or chicken, julienned 1.5 litres chicken stock 1 clove of garlic, bruised 2 cm piece ginger, bruised 5 dried Chinese mushrooms, soaked in hot water for 10 minutes until soft, drained, stems removed and julienned 2 tbsp dried cloud ear mushrooms, soaked in hot water for 5 minutes until soft, drained, hard ends trimmed and torn into small pieces 30 gm lily buds (golden needles, see note), soaked in hot water for 20 minutes, drained, hard ends trimmed and halved, optional ¼ cup Sichuan preserved vegetable (see note), julienned ¾ tsp granulated sugar, to taste 1 tbsp light soy sauce 1 tbsp dark soy sauce 200 gm beancurd, cut into 1.5cm pieces 2 tbsp cornflour combined with 1/3 cup water 2 eggs, lightly beaten 1/3 cup Chinkiang vinegar (see note), or to taste 2 tsp sesame oil 1 green onion, finely sliced   Marinade 1 tsp dark soy sauce 1 tsp Shaoxing rice wine 1½ tsp cornflour combined with 1 tbsp water


  • 01
  • Combine pork (or chicken), marinade ingredients, ½ tsp freshly ground black pepper and a pinch of salt in a bowl, stand for at least 10 minutes to absorb flavours.
  • 02
  • Place stock, garlic and ginger in a saucepan, cover, and bring to a boil over high heat, then add mushrooms, lily buds, preserved vegetable, sugar and soy sauces, and season to taste with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Bring to the boil and add pork, separating using a fork, then add beancurd, return to the boil and slowly stir in cornflour mixture. Slowly bring back to the boil, pour in eggs, stirring continuously using chopsticks or a fork, reduce heat to low and let eggs set for 30 seconds. Stir in vinegar and season with freshly ground black pepper, then add sesame oil and green onion and serve immediately.

Note Sichuan preserved vegetable (called zhacai in Mandarin or ja choy in Cantonese) is often sold in cans or plastic bags or in refrigerated counters in Chinese grocers. Made from the stems of a variety of mustard green, it is brined, then pickled in chilli powder. It is best to rinse off the excess chilli and salt before use. Chinkiang vinegar is a fragrant black vinegar made from glutinous rice, water and salt, from Jiangsu Province. Gold Plum Chinkiang vinegar is one of the best. Lily buds (golden needles) are dried unopened flowers of yellow and orange day lilies. The Chinese call them 'golden needles' because they are thin and yellow in colour. They are sold in plastic packets.

At A Glance

  • Serves 6 people
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At A Glance

  • Serves 6 people

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