Hot and sour soup (Suan La Tang) is a common dish popular in China especially in cold winter. It is firstly invented for poor people who need to warm their body up. So lots of white pepper used. It has different versions in China. In Sichuan area, hot and sour soup is called as Suan La Tang which is mainly cooked with chicken and pork stock while in Northern areas, it is called as Hu La Tang and usually with beef or lamb stock. Although there are some differences in texture including the color and flavors, they share lots of similarities too.
There are lots of similar mixed dishes in China. In Chinese cuisine, we want to eat as more types of vegetables in one meal. That’s a theory about balance and diversion. There are lots of similar dishes for example eight treasure rice, eight treasure congee, and Buddha's delight.
About the Ingredients
Dried shiitake mushroom
Dried shiitake mushroom is much better than fresh mushrooms because of its flavor. The sun drying process makes the ribonucleic acid much easier to release and hydrate. But it has stronger flavors compared with fresh shiitake mushroom and is less smooth in texture. So the principles
- Use dried shiitake mushrooms for a better flavor of your hot and sour soup.
- Not too much to avoid dominating
Wood ear mushrooms
Wood ear mushroom provides a lovely black color and a crunchy texture of the soup. If you want a beautiful appearance of the soup, cut the wood ear mushrooms into smaller pieces.
Soft tofu 懒豆腐
Tofu performs to create a melt in mouth and super soft texture. So soft tofu will be the first choice for this soup.
You can use pork shreds, chicken shreds, cooked beef or lamb, seafood as protein. In addition, ham, spam and other already processed protein is also great for hot and sour soup. If you get high quality ham, your soup will be quite amazing. If all of the processed protein is not by hand or not accepted, I suggest using coated pork shreds. In Sichuan cuisine, we have a very popular local snack named as “水滑肉” literally mean sliding meat in water. It has a very lovely texture, super tender inside and smooth for the shell. I will introduce the authentic version later. But you can have some basic idea about how the meat can be after making this hot and sour soup.
- Vinegar and pepper powder should be added just before turning off the fire because the vinegar might be volatilized by long time of cooking and thus reduce the taste.
- Dark soy sauce is used to darken the color and it is optional if you want to create a big contrast between the appearance and flavor.
- Do not add too much salt at the very beginning. Light soy sauce contains lots of salt. And you can slightly add more salt after the soup is finished based on personal preference. But too much salt at the firstly is a real disaster.
- This soup is actually quite easy and enjoy. Drizzling some sesame oil at the very end can add some naughty flavors and also make the soup more shinning.
Hot and Sour Soup
- 3 dried shiitake mushrooms , soaked in hot water and thinly sliced
- ¼ cup dried wood ear mushrooms , soaked in hot water and shredded
- 50 g pork shreds
- 4 bamboo shoots , finely shredded
- ⅓ carrot , shredded
- 1 thumb ginger , shredded
- 3 tbsp. black vinegar
- 2 tsp. fresh ground white pepper powder
- 5 cups unsalted chicken stock
- 50g soft tofu
- 2 tbsp. light soy sauce , or soy sauce
- 1 tsp. dark soy sauce
- 1 tsp. salt or to taste
- ½ tbsp. sugar
- 1 large egg , whisked
- sesame oil for drizzling
- chopped green onion and coriander
- 2 tsp. light soy sauce
- ¼ tsp. sugar
- 1 tsp. starch
- ¼ tsp. salt
- 3 tbsp. cornstarch or other starch
- 3 tbsp. water
- Prepare the pork, marinate pork shreds with light soy sauce, sugar, salt and cornstarch. Mix well.
- In a wok, add carrots, bamboo shoots, wood ear mushroom, shiitake mushroom and ginger shreds. Add chicken stock, bring to a boiling and then simmer for 15 minutes.
- Add light soy sauce, dark soy sauce, sugar, and salt. Continue cooking for 2 minutes.
- Then place shredded tofu in. Then place pork shreds in and gently stir by chopstick when the content boils again.
- Stir the starch water once and then place the starch water in the soup. Heat to thicken.
- Drizzle egg liquid in. If you want smaller flowers, stirring at a faster speed. Or for larger flowers, stir roughly.
- Place black vinegar and white ground pepper in. Turn off fire immediately.
- Add some extra aroma by placing chopped green onion and coriander. Drizzle some sesame oil and serve hot.