Hot and sour soup is an old favourite for most people who frequent Peking and Sichuan restaurants. It is one of the few Chinese thick soups. There are a number of different recipes, but they are all made hot and sour by the addition of vinegar and plenty of freshly ground pepper.
1/4 lb (100 g) pork or chicken
1 cake bean curd
3-4 Chinese dried mushrooms, soaked
1 pint (600 ml) good stock
1 tbsp rice wine or sherry
1 tbsp soy sauce
1 tsp white pepper
1 tbsp vinegar
1 tsp salt
1 tbsp cornflour
Thinly shred the pork, beancurd and the mushrooms. Bring the stock to a rolling boil, add the pork, bean curd and mushrooms, simmer for 2-3 minutes, then add wine, soy sauce, pepper, vinegar and salt. Now blend the cornflour with a little cold water to make a smooth paste, pour into the soup slowly, stirring all the time. Serve as soon as the soup thickens.
A small amount of finely shredded bamboo shoots and a lightly beaten egg may be added to the soup in order to make it into an even thicker and more substantial dish.
© Deh-Ta Hsiung and reproduced with his kind permission.