Good Grief Out of My Comfort Zone Hot & Sour Soup

Hot & Sour Soup

Hot & Sour Soup

If you have been following this blog from the beginning you already know it is about me stepping out of my comfort zone. Being such a private person exposing myself in a blog is a huge jump into a world I consider uncomfortable. Both my kids made stepping outside the comfort zone seem easy. They relished life off the beaten path venturing into worlds of unchartered territory. My goodness they both swam with sharks. William in the Pacific doing some night spear fishing (yikes) and Caitlin in the Caribbean collecting data for a coral reef project. Suffice to say their brave bones did not come from me.

Will & Cait inspire me to be brave

Will & Cait inspire me to be brave

They both have adventurous palates, too. While I easily forego dishes like balut (A balut or balot is a developing duck embryo that is boiled alive and eaten in the shell. ), cow tongue and snails my children dive right in. They will try anything at least once. For the competitive cook in me these children are a blessing testing my experiments in the kitchen.

chicken broth

chicken broth

This week I stepped outside the comfort zone by playing with chicken feet. If you think the photo above is nasty just consider what they are like in the flesh. Icky is a good word! Apparently, it takes good bones to make good chicken broth, so I went all in with the chicken feet, neck bones and backs. I have to admit it is worth the time and effort. Way better than the canned stuff. Bet you already knew that.IMG_0830

This week begins the Chinese New Year. It’s snowing like nobody’s business in my neck of the woods and my husband has been working the snow blower. To warm him up I made his favorite hot & sour soup. We love Asian food and often judge a restaurant by how well the chef prepares this dish. It’s tricky business to get a balance of flavors and a good broth consistency.

Hot & Sour Soup

6 ounces thinly sliced pork , cut into slivers( boneless pork chop works)

3 tablespoons low sodium soy sauce, divided

2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil, divided

1 teaspoon corn starch, divided

1 ounce dried shitake mushrooms

1 ounce dried wood ear mushrooms

1 ounce dried lily buds, cut into 2-inch lengths

4 green onions, white and green parts, chopped

1 clove garlic, minced

1 tablespoon grated ginger

½ teaspoon Asian 5 spice powder

6 cups chicken broth, home made or store-bought

1 (12 oz) package extra-firm tofu, diced

¼ cup Chinkiang vinegar (black vinegar)

½ to 1 tablespoon Sriracha sauce

1 teaspoon white pepper

1 egg

chopped fresh cilantro, optional

In bowl, marinate pork in 1 tablespoon soy sauce, 1 tablespoon sesame oil and ½ teaspoon cornstarch for 30 minutes. In large bowl, rehydrate mushrooms and lily buds in hot water (just enough to cover them) for 30 minutes. In saucepan, over medium high heat, cook pork, green onions, garlic and ginger, stirring, for 1 minute. Stir in 5-spice. Add broth; bring to a simmer. Add tofu, mushrooms, lily buds, vinegar, sriracha, white pepper, remaining 2 tablespoons of soy sauce and 1 tablespoon of sesame oil. Bring to a simmer and adjust seasoning to your taste with vinegar and sriracha. (if you find the vinegar to harsh you can balance out the flavor with 1 or 2 teaspoons of sugar).  Beat the egg with the remaining ½ teaspoon of cornstarch. With the soup at a simmer slowly pour the egg in a thin steady stream. Let set 10 to 15 seconds to cook before stirring. Season with kosher salt, if necessary and serve topped with additional chopped scallions and cilantro.

Note: if you don’t have an Asian market where all these ingredients can be found substitute fresh mushrooms, canned bamboo shoots, and a mix of equal parts rice and red wine vinegar for the black vinegar

8 thoughts on “Good Grief Out of My Comfort Zone Hot & Sour Soup

  1. This looks like the real deal! My kids crave hot and sour soup — like you, it’s their measure of a Chinese restaurant ‘s worth. Migh give this a try for Chinese New Year (but no chicken feet for me!).

  2. Thank you for mentioning ‘balut’ in your blog. Being a Filipino who migrated in the US it us heartwarming that you know a unique dish from that small country in Southeast Asia. Kudos!

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    • Thank you so much for your comment. My son was a Navy Corpsman who worked with some Filipino nurses. They introduced him to many delicious dishes, but balut was the most adventurous.

  3. I agree the Hot and Sour Soup is a good barometer for the overall quality of the restaurant.

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