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Secret Recipe: Mama Chang's Hot and Sour Soup

Photo courtesy of Chronicle Books

Here are all of the bright and peppery flavors of the hot-and-sour soup you get at a restaurant with none of the glop. Ground pork is not traditional, but it makes the preparation of this soup ultraquick. Wood ear mushrooms, sometimes labeled “tree fungus” (now there’s an appetizing name), are a standard addition, but they can be hard to find unless you live near an Asian grocery store. I substitute easy-to-find button mushrooms, which don’t have the same crunch but add a nice earthy flavor. Egg, not flavorless cornstarch, acts as the thickener, allowing the flavors of pork, sesame, vinegar, and pepper to come shining through. My mom used to whip this up as a fast lunch for my brother and me, and I have taught it to the Flour chefs, so they now offer it as a daily soup special. It always sells out, and Mom is thrilled to be part of the Flour menu.

This recipe, which comes to us courtesy of Chronicle Books' Flour, Too, the highly anticipated follow up to Joanne Chang's Flour

Makes: about 1¾ qt/1 .75 L (serves 4)

2 tbsp vegetable oil

1 garlic clove, smashed and minced

1 tbsp peeled and minced fresh ginger

4 scallions, white and green parts, minced, plus 2 tbsp chopped for garnish

8 oz/225 g ground pork

4 cups/960 ml Chicken Stock (page 280)

1-lb/455-g block soft or firm tofu (not silken and not extra-firm), cut into 1/2-in/12-mm cubes

4 or 5 medium button mushrooms, wiped clean and thinly sliced

1 tsp granulated sugar

2⁄3 cup/160 ml rice vinegar

3 tbsp soy sauce

1 tsp freshly ground black pepper

1 tbsp sesame oil, plus 2 tsp for garnish

1 tbsp Sriracha sauce

2 large eggs

White pepper for garnish

Special equipment: large saucepan

1. In the saucepan, heat the vegetable oil over medium-high heat until hot. Add the garlic, ginger, scallions, and ground pork and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 1 minute. Break up the pork into smaller pieces but don’t worry about breaking it down completely. Add the stock and bring to a simmer.

2. Add the tofu, mushrooms, sugar, vinegar, soy sauce, black pepper, sesame oil, and Sriracha sauce and bring the soup back to a simmer over medium-high heat. (Taste the soup. If you want it hotter, add more Sriracha sauce; if you want it more sour, add more vinegar.)

3. In a small bowl, whisk the eggs until blended. With the soup at a steady simmer, slowly whisk in the eggs so they form strands. Bring the soup back to a simmer. Divide the soup among four bowls and garnish each with a little sesame oil, scallion, and white pepper. Serve immediately. The soup can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days.

 

Want more recipes and a copy of the book? Author Joanne Chang will be appearing at Omnivore Books from 6-7 p.m., Thursday 6/27.