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Hot and Sour Soup

What you need: 

1/4 cup dried tree ear mushrooms (or use regular or fancy mushrooms).
3 tablespoon peeled, finely chopped (or grated) gingeroot (USE FRESH ONLY)
1 cup chopped scallions
5 tablespoon reduced-sodium soy sauce
2 teaspoon red wine
1/4 cup vinegar (use red wine or white)
2 teaspoon plus 1 tablespoon cornstarch
8+ cloves garlic coarsly chopped (or 4 tablespoon pre-minced)
1.5 teaspoon red-pepper flakes (or cayenne pepper)
1 tablespoon hot-pepper paste (or tabasco or jalapeno sauce)
6 fresh water chestnuts (optional)
1 cup low fat diced firm tofu
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon szechuan peppercorns (roasted and crushed) - optional

What you do: 

Soak dried tree ear mushrooms in boiling water for about 15 minutes. I also have used regular fresh mushrooms and shiutie (sp???) mushrooms. Set aside. Mix
cornstarch (try with about 2 tsp. if want thicker soup add rest of
cornstarch) and cold water (1/4 cup) and set aside. Take 1 TBSP ginger, 1/4 scallions. 2 TBSP soy sauce, 1 tsp vegan wine and vinegar.
Mix into a semi-paste (just stir for a bit). Combine garlic and remaining ginger (PLEASE use fresh gingeroot, it really makes the recipie. I tried it using dired ginger and it didn't taste nearly as good, it lost a lot).
Heat large wok or pot and add 1 tsp or vegan red wine. Stir fry garlic and ginger paste for about 30 secs. on high heat. Stir a lot. Add red-pepper flakes, hop pepper paste (or whatever you decided upon), water chestnuts and mushrooms. Stir fry some more (30-60 seconds) stiring a lot. Then add semi-paste mixture made earlier (chives, soy, ect). About 1 min. then add tofu and rest of chives. Stir fry another 45 secs and add rest of ingrediants (vegan sugar, peppercorns, rest of soy sauce) plus 2 cups of water. Bring to boil and cook 2 minutes then add cornstarch mixture. Cook until thickend (not to much longer).
Taste for seasoning. You may want more/less cayenne pepper and spice. More vinegar to make it more sour. This only makes about 3-4 cups, so I always make it as a double batch. It usually does not last a night, even with a double batch. It is very HOT and will clear those clogged sinuss.

Preparation Time: 
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I couldn't find the wood ears the the Korean market, the black fungus looked like them, but I spied a big bag of chinese veggies. So I got that. Yippie I said when on my spoon where baby wood ears. Delisc!

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