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Hot & Sour Soup Recipe?

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    Posted: 22 February 2012 at 08:03
I've recently developed a taste for hot & sour soup. But most of the exotic ingredients called for in authentic versions just aren't available 'round here.
 
Anybody got a version using commonly available ingredients?
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote pitrow Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 22 February 2012 at 11:22
I love hot & sour soup, I'm going to have to try making it one of these days.

Here's a recipe from tyler florence that doesn't have too many exotic ingredients in it. Haven't tried it so I can't comment on it, but it might be a good starting point. I'd say substitue some regular old button mushrooms for the 'chinese fungi', seems like a lot of the chinese places that serve hot&sour around here just use canned sliced button mushrooms, or at least that's what they taste like to me. I think the rest of the recipe should be pretty easy to find. Good luck!

http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/tyler-florence/hot-and-sour-soup-recipe/index.html
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote HistoricFoodie Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 22 February 2012 at 11:36
Thing is, pitrow, when you live in a culinary wasteland as I do, even finding things like red curry paste is problematical. And it gets old ordering things off the web, in onesies and twosies, and paying shipping that costs more than the product.
 
Hear that hollow laughter? That's me, cuz yet another celebrity chef just said, "available in any market." Any market in New York or Chicago or LA, maybe.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote pitrow Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 22 February 2012 at 11:48
lol. I hear ya. Do any supermarkets around you have an asian section? You should be able to find some kind of chili paste there. heck, even sriracha sauce would be close enough, and I often add it to the hot & sour soup. 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote TasunkaWitko Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 22 February 2012 at 11:49
this might be helpful:
 
 
the links within the link lead to ingredients that can be used as substitutions, if necessary.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Rod Franklin Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 22 February 2012 at 18:14
One of the ingredients in good hot-n-sour soup is clouds ears mushrooms, and I believe there is a wild equivalent that grows all over the US. I would think you could find a big bag of dried clouds ears on the nets somewhere. They shouldn't cost too much. I could be wrong though. Firm tofu would be a real problem if it doesn't exist in your local grocery. That has to be pricey to ship. Bamboo shoots are bamboo shoots and I don't think there is a substitution.

Culinary wasteland... I laffed. A very sad laughter, 'cause I can relate. I drove 100 miles round trip to get a bowl of Vietnamese pho. One ingredient away from making it myself. Fresh Thai holy basil. Unheard of around here, even the restaurants basil was a little pitiful looking.

The ingredients for Hot and sour soup the way I know it from The Thousand Recipe Chines Cookbook, by Gloria Bley Miller. A fine book by the way.

4 dried clouds ears
1/4 lb lean pork
2 bean curd cakes (firm tofu)
1 green onion
1/2 C bamboo shoots, julienne'd
1 egg
2 Tbs corn starch
1/4 C water
5 C stock (This should be chicken or chicken/pork stock)
1 C mushroom soaking liquid
1 Tbs sherry
2 Tbs white vinegar
3/4 to 1 ts salt
1 ts soy sauce
1 ts tabasco sauce
1/4 ts black pepper

I suppose you could just omit the bean curd as it's a bland ingredient. Maybe just make a un-browned, sort of hard cooked omelet with a few extra eggs and sliver that up to sub for bean curd. The clouds ears have a sort of snap and crunch to them, I suppose slivered portabellas would work although they don't have that woody sort of taste that clouds ears do. I got nuthin' when it comes to bamboo shoots. I can't think of anything that tastes like them, but the good news is, according to the book, bamboo shoots are an optional variation, so you could just leave them out. The rest is doable I think. The sherry is important and I hope you can find that.

Question have you made egg flower/drop/petal soup?

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote HistoricFoodie Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 22 February 2012 at 18:37
 big bag of dried clouds ears on the nets somewhere
 
Finding ingredients on the net isn't the problem, Rod. It's paying the ridiculous shipping charges. Ir really gets on my last nerve when a product costs, oh, say, $3.98, but the shipping is 12 bucks.
 
If it were just the cloud ear fungus, I could make do. But here are some of the other authentic ingredients: sea cucumber (not available), dried black mushrooms (intermittently available), black rice vinegar (not available).
 
Of course, this is a cakewalk compared to making pho from scratch. I'd happily drive a hundred mile round trip for bowl. Unfortunately, there's no Vietnamese restaurants I'm aware of even within twice that distance.
 
Yeah, culinary wasteland could be amusing. But when I have to drive 35 miles to the big city, then hit seven or eight stores just to do basic shopping, it's hard to laugh.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Rod Franklin Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 22 February 2012 at 19:01
OOPS! I made a big change to my post above while you were posting yours. The ingredient list above is a very good soup and I have made it many times, although not in a very long time. It is identical to what I have experienced in several Chinese restaurants. Your ingredient list is prohibitive and I think you can get a very satisfactoy result without some of those things in your soup.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Rod Franklin Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 22 February 2012 at 19:06
I've made pho from scratch. The real hard part is getting the amounts of the spices correct. I never got it figured out. When I was making it I could go to a Vietnamese restaurant and by a bowl, so I didn't put in the time. Now that I can't get it so easy I can't get the ingredients either.

I would like to try a bowl of hot and sour with your ingredients though. I bet it would ROCK!
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote HistoricFoodie Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 23 February 2012 at 05:34
I've made pho from scratch. The real hard part is getting the amounts of the spices correct
 
And making the stock---which requires bones---which aren't available for love nor money 'round heah.
 
Balancing the spices is as much a matter of personal taste as anything else. In Viet Nam, no two cooks make it quite the same way. For a Vietnamese, the "best" version was "the way my mama made it." Which is as it should be.
 
The ingredients I posted for the hot and sour were just the exotic ones. The full list, from the recipe in The Food of China: Authentic Recipes From the Middle Kingdom:
 
sea cucumber, chicken stock, shrimp, green peas, dried black mushrooms, cloud ear fungus, bean curd, tomato, salt, white pepper, sesame oil, cornstarch, egg, black rice vinegar, and spring onion.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Rod Franklin Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 23 February 2012 at 09:13
Sounds like a good list and I bet it's good too. I've had dried sea cucumber and it ain't my favorite thing...

This hot and sour situation is looking like a kind of Vietnamese pho sort of situation. Meaning there is a basic "must have" list and it's all subjective beyond that.

I see no soy sauce in yours. Yours is a seafood based soup too. To condense the things in common I see are a thickened mushroom, bean curd and egg flower soup with vinegar and pepper, with green onion and sesame oil as a finish. I think I would give up on trying to recreate the recipe in The Food of China book. It just seems too tough to make happen. And because I'm not a great cook, I've found that it takes me several tries to get something like this right. After all the effort and expense, a final result being disappointing, just makes it hurt even more.

I live in corn, cow and soybean country, and I've been able to find meat packing places out in the country where cows and pigs are butchered that would hook me up with some pieces parts if I asked. That means I've had to travel even farther out into the hinterlands to source animal parts.

Bones aren't as easy to find and as ubiquitous as they used to be, and they cost a lot more too. I could usually lay hands on a beef knuckle or two, and then I would make do with beef ribs and shanks for the rest. As far as spices, it's weird to me to make savory soup with what I consider sweet spices. I have no trained sense for it. I found it easy to overdo cinnamon and cloves, for example.

Back on subject, my apologies. I think you could make a hot and sour soup that people would be very happy to eat. -(sea cucumber), +scallops, chicken stock, shrimp, green peas(optional), -(dried black) +portabella or crimini mushrooms, -(clouds ears), bean curd (possible sub w/ omlet), tomato(optional), salt +(possible oyster sauce or some soy sauce[optional]),-(white) +black pepper, sesame oil, corn starch, egg, -(black rice) +white vinegar, and green onion. 

You being a food historian, I can see where all these substitutions and deletions would be upsetting, and having difficulty sourcing exotic ingredients, frustrating. Could you be happy making a hot and sour soup without the more unusual ingredients?
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote HistoricFoodie Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 23 February 2012 at 10:43
Meaning there is a basic "must have" list and it's all subjective beyond that.

Absolutely. Plus the final flavor of pho has much to do with how thick the beef was for starters (cuz it effects how cooked it winds up), and what condiments you choose, and in what quantities.
 
Ya know, I was so focused on the exotic ingredients I never realized this was a seafood version. Every hot and sour I've eaten was made with pork. Go figure.
 
Where we differ is that I'm a very good cook, and wouldn't hesitate to follow that recipe if I could get the ingredients. In fact, I might be more anxious to do so, given as I've not had a seafood version.
 
What you need to do, though, is absorb St. Juila's advice: Do not be afraid. You can always eat your mistakes!
 
But I'd be just as happy to make a version with subs. I'm not particularly looking to recreate a recipe. What I'm looking for is a recipe that has the look and taste of hot & sour. Actual ingredients are secondary.
 
Funny thing is that the tofu is not a problem. Every supermarket carries it, in various textures. So that would be the least of the problems (thinking of tofu as real food, on the other hand, is a real problem for me).
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote HistoricFoodie Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 23 February 2012 at 13:37
Rod, pho the true gelt (sorry, I couldn't resist) check out Andrea Nguyen's recipe here: http://www.vietworldkitchen.com/blog/2008/10/pho-beef-noodle-soup.html
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Rod Franklin Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 23 February 2012 at 14:08
I've eaten my share of mistakes!

Although you haven't indicated yea or nae on the soup I've offered, I will nonetheless add the procedure from the book, with some small additions of my own. I encourage you to try it.

1. Bring 6 cups of stock to a boil.

Assuming your using fresh portabellas, and a can of sliced bamboo shoots:

2.Prep: Sliver the mushrooms, pork, bean curd and bamboo shoots. Slice the green onion thinly at a severe diagonal. Beat the egg well. Blend the cornstarch and the cold water.
3. Add pork and mushrooms to the boiling stock, reduce the heat and allow to simmer, covered, for 10 minutes.
4. Add bean curd and simmer, covered, 3 minutes more.
5. Stir in sherry, vinegar, salt, soy sauce and tobasco, just to combine.
6. Pour in the cornstarch mixture and stir while allowing it to thicken as much as it will.
7. Adjust the heat so the pot is not quite simmering. No bubbles allowed for the next steps.
8. With a serving spoon in your left hand, get the contents in the pot slowly spinning, well, just a little faster than real slow. Keep the spoon in there and stir to maintain the spin. Always in the same direction. You will not stop stirring till the very end.
9. Meanwhile with your right hand, slowly as you possibly can, pour the beaten egg into the slowly spinning soup. Don't pour the eggs on the spoon.
10. Do not stop stirring, do not speed up or slow down and never change directions, and stir for at least a minute.

The above egg procedure results in fine threads of eggs in the soup. It's a beautiful thing!
 
11. remove from heat and add sesame oil and the green onions. Or you can garnish with these at the table into individual bowls.

I can almost guarantee you that you will be happy and satisfied with the results. 
  
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Rod Franklin Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 23 February 2012 at 14:38
I just read the linked website. Man! Makes me want to make the 100 mile trip! I love that stuff!

Interesting thing though in regards to the procedure where they write of parboiling bones. I believe the whole issue is an attempt to achieve a clear broth. I have found a way to do that. Stunningly clear.

I have a gas stove. I have adjusted the gas valve on one back burner so that when it is on it's lowest setting it will maintain my soup pot at 186F. By laying all the meat on a rack in the bottom of the pot I bring it up to 186F on a larger front burner, then transferring it to the back burner set on low and cooking covered for a looong time. Never once allowing it to boil or even get above 186F. I can get very clear soup/broth/stock without parboiling or skimming or any messy thing like that. At the end of cooking the meat and bones and rack are carefully removed with tongs, the soup is then carefully ladled through a cloth lined strainer, and it's very, very clear. 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote HistoricFoodie Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 24 February 2012 at 13:16
So, a friend on another site sent me the Cook's Illustrated version. Overall, it sounds pretty close to the original, sans the really exotic ingredients.
 
CI sugggests shiitake mushrooms, which certainly makes sense. And, if black rice vinegar isn't available, they say to use a tablespoon each of red wine vinegar and balsamic.
 
I reckon I'm gonna try it this weekend. I'll let you know how it works out.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote TasunkaWitko Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 24 February 2012 at 13:25
sounds good ~ we'd love to see it.
 
if you want, make it a new post with the recipe and include pictures etc, so it stands alone independent from the back-and-forth we've had here.
 
 ~ i've never made it before, and a nice pictorial would be good for laying it all out!Thumbs Up
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote HistoricFoodie Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 24 February 2012 at 15:17

I don't own a digital camera, Ron, and wouldn't know how to download a photo.

Don't we have a thing about not downloading copyrighted recipes? My buddy sent it to me privately, rather than posting it on a public board, for that reason.
 
 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote TasunkaWitko Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 24 February 2012 at 15:26

too bad about the digital camera - i ahve a feeling your creations are worth preservation! if you pick one up, let me know, and we'll be happy to help you get started in the world of picture posting.

as for the recipe question, the answer i have is that the internet is full of recipes from all sorts of sources, including books, magazines etc. we have recipes here from books, internet pages etc., and as far as i can tell, as long as credit is given in the form of a source or a link (check my "recipe" posts), and as long as this site is not for profit (making money off other people's work), which it isn't, then all is good. i am a member of quite a few forums where articles, recipes etc. are posted, and have seen dozens more that i am not involved with ~
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote HistoricFoodie Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 26 February 2012 at 07:39

Here’s the recipe I tried this weekend. It was sent by a friend who adapted it from the Cooks Illustrated version, which I adapted slightly further. I imagine the original is at the CI site.

Friend Wife does not do heat. So I left out the chili oil, and seasoned my own portion with a shot of Sriracha. All in all, a pretty good version that does not require exotic ingredients. There is a lot left over, but I’m told that it freezes well.

 

Pork & tofu:

1 pkg extra firm tofu

1 tbls tamari (or other soy sauce)

1 tsp toasted sesame oil

1 tsp cornstarch

½ lb pork loin, but into matchsticks

 

Broth:

6 cups chicken stock

1 can (5 oz) bamboo shoots cut in matchsticks

4 oz shiitake mushroom caps, sliced (the original and I used fresh. Phil uses dry, and adds the soaking liquid to the stock)

5 tbls Chinese black vinegar or 1 tbls each red wine vinegar and balsamic

3 tbls tamari

3 tbls water

3 tbls cornstarch

1-2 tsp chili oil

1 tsp white pepper

 

Finishing touches:

½ tsp cornstarch

1 tsp water

1 large egg

3 scallions sliced thin on the bias

 

Make the pork and tofu: Drain the tofu by putting it on a plate, covering with another heavy plate, and laying a brick or couple of cans on that. Set aside until at least ½ cup liquid is released, about 15 minutes. Once drained, cut into 3/8 inch cubes. Set aside. Meanwhile, whisk the soy sauce, sesame oil, and cornstarch in a medium bowl, stir in the pork to coat well. Let the pork marinate from ten to 30 minutes.

 

Make the broth: Bring the stock to a simmer. Add the bamboo shoots and mushrooms and simmer until Shiitake are tender. Stir in the diced tofu and pork, with the marinade, stirring to separate any pieces that are stuck together. Whisk together the vinegar, soy sauce, water, cornstarch, chili oil and white pepper, then whisk that slurry into the broth. Continue simmering until soup thickens and turns translucent, about a minute. Remove from heat.

 

Finish the soup: Whisk the cornstarch and water together, then whisk in the egg. Stirring constantly in one direction, drizzle the egg mixture into the broth from about 18 inches above the pot.

 

Serve soup in individual bowls, garnished with the scallions.

 

 

 

 

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