Chinese Hot-and-Sour Soup
It's a bit milder than the restaurant standard, but that's what we like about it. The flavors are balanced and fresh, and the acidity functions as an accent, not a one-note blast. Prep and Cook Time: 1 hour, 30 minutes. Notes: The heat from the black pepper in this soup intensifies as it sits. If you plan to make the soup ahead of time or want a milder flavor, use 2 tsp. during cooking; then taste the soup before serving and add more pepper if you like.
2 pounds pork top loin, cut crosswise into 1/8-in.-thick strips
1/4 cup plus 2 tbsp. soy sauce
2 tablespoons grated peeled fresh ginger
3/4 cup rice vinegar
1/4 cup cornstarch
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup peanut oil
1 can (8 oz.) sliced bamboo shoots, drained and rinsed
12 cups chicken broth
3/4 pound shiitake mushrooms, thinly sliced
12 ounces firm tofu, drained and cubed
4 large eggs
1/2 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
About 1 tbsp. freshly ground black pepper (see Notes)
Chopped fresh cilantro and sliced green onions (pale green and white parts)
1. In a bowl, toss pork with 1/4 cup soy sauce and ginger. Marinate 20 minutes. In another bowl, stir together remaining 2 tbsp. soy sauce, rice vinegar, cornstarch, sugar, and salt; set aside.
2. Heat peanut oil in a large pot (at least 5 qts.) over medium-high heat, then add pork and marinade. Cook, stirring constantly, until pork loses its pink color, about 4 minutes. Stir in bamboo shoots and cook 1 minute.
3. Increase heat to high, add broth, and bring to a boil. Add mushrooms, reduce heat to a simmer, and cook about 20 minutes. Add tofu and simmer 5 minutes. Add soy-vinegar mixture and simmer 5 minutes more; the liquid will thicken.
4. In a small bowl, beat eggs with sesame oil. Slowly pour eggs into soup in a thin stream while stirring soup very slowly in one direction. Add pepper, stir briefly, then simmer 5 minutes. Serve with cilantro and green onions.
Note: Nutritional analysis is per cup.
Yield Makes about 4 1/2 qts. (serving size: 1 cup)
Nutritional Information CALORIES 244(66% from fat); FAT 18g (sat 5.7g); PROTEIN 15g; CHOLESTEROL 80mg; SODIUM 890mg; FIBER 0.7g; CARBOHYDRATE 18g
Sunset, JANUARY 2007