Hot and sour soup

homemade hot and sour soup

J grew up eating the decadent hot and sour soup at King Doh, authentic Peking and Szechuan cuisine. After several years of trial and error, we finally found a recipe that is really close to the original. To celebrate the Chinese New Year last night, we made a big pot.

Ingredients:
2 quarts chicken stock
2 ounces dried black mushrooms (we had trouble finding these and had the must success using fresh shiitake mushrooms)
1 inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and grated
1 tablespoon red chili paste (in a pinch, we combined Thai chili oil, Sriracha sauce and Hoisin sauce to make a paste)
1 small can bamboo shoots
1 small can water chestnuts (you can buy them already sliced)
1 small can straw mushrooms
18 ounces firm tofu, drained and cubed
three small boneless, skinless chicken breasts, sliced thin
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup rice vinegar
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon sugar
4 tablespoons cornstarch
1/4 cup water
2 large eggs, beaten
3 tablespoons sesame oil
green onion, chopped (to garnish)

Directions:
If using dried mushrooms, reconstitute them in water according to package directions. Heat oil in wok or large pot. When the oil is hot, add ginger, chile paste and chicken, cook for about two-minute. Add bamboo shoots, water chestnuts and mushrooms, cook for about a minute. In a bowl, combine vinegar, soy sauce, salt, pepper and sugar and pour into wok. Add chicken stock, bring to a boil and simmer for about 10 minutes (don’t rush this. The simmering is what seals in the hot and sour flavors). Add tofu and cook another 3 to 5 minutes. Mix cornstarch and water and add to soup and cook until thickened (this will make the soup cloudy and thick, but don’t add too much cornstarch or it will gelatinize . Stir soup in one direction to get current going then add beaten egg, it will look feathery. Stir the soup brining the contents from the bottom to the top> Garnish soup with green onion and serve.

My Opinion:
Make sue you leave the soup on low for seconds. The second bowl is always better than the first. The only thing we might add in the future is some shrimp or an onion. The soup is even better the next day!

Here’s a photo of the King Doh version.
King Doh Hot and Sour Soup

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Cha Ca Thang Long (Vietnamese Turmeric Fish with Dill)

After watching Anthony Bourdain’s No Reservations for Vietnam, J and I have sought out Vietnamese dishes to prepare. And as we’ve mentioned before, we are always looking for more  ways to eat fish . J found this recipe from the Ravenous Couple and it didn’t disappoint. Easy to prepare, delicious and fragrant, we’ve added this to our dinner rotation.

Vietnamese Turmeric Fish with Dill.
Vietnamese Turmeric Fish with Dill.

Ingredients:
1 lb of white fish fillets (We used tilapia fillets)

Fish Marinade
1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder (this gives the fish the beautiful yellow color)
1/4 teaspoon ginger powder (The original recipe calls for galangal powder, but we’ve had a hard time finding it around us)
1 tbs minced garlic
1 tbs minced shallots
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon of fish sauce

Additions
1 large red onion, sliced (we only had a white onion on hand)
1 cup of green onion cut lengthwise into 1.5 inch segments
1 bunch of fresh dill coarsely chopped (thick stems removed)
1/4 cup of dry roasted peanuts, coarsely crushed (we didn’t use this because we didn’t have any)
12 oz. bag of vermicelli noodles (boiled and drained, we used white rice because we didn’t have vermicelli on hand)
Fresh mint

If you’re ever interested in making your own fish sauce, the original recipe has instructions on how to do that. We opted not to for time purposes, as we made this on a weeknight.

Directions:
Combine olive oil, turmeric, galangal, garlic, shallots, salt, sugar, and fish sauce in large bowl and mix well. Cut the fish into smaller fillets and gently mix, and allow to marinade in the fridge for at least an hour.

You’ll need two skillets for this, one large and one medium. In the large skillet, saute the red and green onions with a bit of oil under medium low heat. At the same time have the medium non-stick skillet heating on medium high.

While the onions are cooking, cook the fish fillets about 3 minutes on each side until you get a nice golden opaque color and a light brown crust. A minute or so before the fish is done, turn the large skillet with the onions to high and place the cooked fillets on top of the sauteed onions and scallions. Remove from heat and generously top with fresh dill and roasted peanuts (if desired). Serve immediately over vermicelli noodles, fresh lettuce and herbs.

My Opinion:
The dill, fish sauce and mint make te flavors really pop. If you’re skeptical like we initially were, try just a little of each on one bite. I promise, you won’t regret it. The only change we’ve made is to use a bit of a firmer fish. Tilapia was just what we had on hand the first time and worked fine, but cod, halibut, or the recommended catfish would be easier to sear. You won’t feel bogged down by this dish. It’s light and filling. We served it with rice, but that was almost unnecessary, the onions were enough.

Mongolian Beef

The secret behind good Mongolian Beef is apparently a super heated wok to caramelize the beef. While we can’t recreate a super heated wok, J came very close to mimicking the flavors modifying this recipe from Big Oven using brown sugar.

Ingredients:
lbs Flank Steak cut into strips
1/3 cup Cornstarch
1/4 cup Vegetable oil
1 bunch Green onion, sliced

Sauce
1 tbs Vegetable oil
1 tbs Ginger, minced
3 tbs Garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon Red pepper flakes
1/2 cup Soy sauce
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup Brown sugar

Directions:
Put cut up steak into a plastic bag along with corn starch. Shake well to coat and let sit for 10 minutes. In small sauce pan, heat 1 Tbs of oil until hot. Add red pepper flakes, ginger, and garlic. Saute briefly making sure not to burn. Pour in soy sauce and water, then add brown sugar. Boil sauce for 2-3 minutes to thicken slightly. Remove from heat. Heat 1/4 cup of oil in wok or large skillet. When oil is hot, add beef and stir fry until brown and cooked through. Add sauce and green onions. Cook for 1 minute. Do not leave in pan too long or the sauce will thicken from the corn starch.

My opinion:
This rivals the best  restaurant prepared Mongolian Beef. Fair warning, though, if you do have left overs, the cornstarch will make the gravy congeal in the container. It’s still tasty the next day, just with thicker sauce.

Pumpkin Soup (Round 2) and Gruyère Toast

We wound up with a couple of cans of left over pumpkin and in the quest for the perfect pumpkin soup, wanted to try a different version. This one is modified from the Mayo Clinic.

Ingredients:
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
1 can (8 ounces) pumpkin puree
1 and 1/2 cups chicken broth
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 cup fat-free milk
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground white pepper
5 green onion, green top only, chopped

Directions:
In a large saucepan, heat oil over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until tender, about 3 minutes.

Add the remaining pumpkin, broth, cinnamon and nutmeg. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Stir in the milk and cook until hot. Don’t boil.

Ladle into warmed individual bowls and garnish with white pepper and green onion tops. Serve immediately.

My opinion:
The happy medium lies in the combination of the last recipe and this one. This was a bit too pumpkin pie in soup form for me.

Now for the best part. The Gruyère Toast. I could eat just this for dinner on a regular basis. Yum!

Ingredients:
french bread loaf, cut into about 3/4 inch slices
Olive oil
Your favorite Gruyère (we like the apple wood smoked), sliced

Directions:
Preheat oven to 400 degrees or 450 degrees. brush bread with olive oil. Put in oven until just starting to brown on the top. Take out of oven, flip and add Gruyère. Put back in oven until Gruyère is melted and bread is fully toasted. (Hint: the toasting will take much less time on this side. Try to keep it from burning.)

My opinion:
Like I stated above, I love this toast. It’s great with tomato soup, chicken noodle and just by itself. It will be one of our go to dishes this winter!

Pumpkin Soup


In addition to the pumpkin ravioli we made for Halloween, we saved enough pumpkin to also make this delicious pumpkin soup, modified from this Food.com recipe. It was easy, filling and perfect for a chilly fall evening.

Ingredients:
2 tablespoons butter
2 celery ribs, diced
1 onion, chopped well
1 tablespoon flour1 teaspoon salt1/2 teaspoon ground ginger1/4 teaspoon nutmeg3 cups chicken stock
1 1/2 lbs diced pumpkin, roasted and peeled
1 cup half-and-halfchopped green onion

Directions:

Melt butter in large saucepan over medium heat. Add celery and onion and saute until onion is browned, about 10 minutes. Stir in the flour, salt, ginger and nutmeg. Cook for 5 minutes. Stir in chicken stock and cubed pumpkin. Simmer on low for 30 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool for 10 minutes. Add to blender one cup at a time and blend until smooth. Add half and half and blend. Serve hot with green onion garnish.
My opinion:
Tasted closer to butternut squash soup than pumpkin, but still delicious. Next time we’ll increase the spices a bit more and use fresh ginger.