Good restaurant Chinese hot and sour soup has a very distinct flavor that can be challenging to replicate. And not all restaurant hot and sour soups are created equal. Not by a long shot. Though you may not be able to pinpoint the difference, you can tell when shortcuts have been taken. And have you noticed that you can generally predict the quality of the entree based on the quality of the hot and sour soup? A really good hot and sour soup is a good omen for the food to follow.
Here is an authentic Chinese Hot and Sour Soup recipe that I carefully crafted, paying very close attention to detail. This is the real deal. It is as good as the best hot and sour soup you have enjoyed at your favorite Chinese restaurant. I’m confident you’ll agree. I’ve included detailed step-by-step pictures to familiarize you with some of the lesser known ingredients and to ensure your success in making it. This is an easy soup to make, it just involves some prep work. Get the prep work out of the way – much of which can be done well in advance – and then all you have to do is combine the ingredients. Once you’ve made it and are familiar with the ingredients and the steps involved, making it the next time will be a breeze and you’ll become famous among your friends and family for the best Chinese Hot and Sour Soup in town!
Before we get started, let me introduce you to a couple of key ingredients in this soup that you may not be familiar with.
This soup uses two types of dried mushrooms, Shiitake and Wood Ear. While most of you have heard of shiitake mushrooms, wood ear mushrooms, also called cloud ears or black fungus, are less commonly known.
Wood ear mushrooms grow on trees and…look like ears!
They’re usually sold in dried form and often already sliced.
According to the Mycological Society of San Francisco:
“[Wood Ear mushrooms] are used for their crisp, snappy texture and their color rather than their taste. The Chinese regularly add [wood ear] to dishes because they think it improves breathing, circulation, and well-being. And they may be correct. Recent studies of the medicinal effects of [wood ear] have identified a chemical that tends to inhibit blood clotting. Since blood vessel diseases, strokes, and heart attacks are associated with clotting, perhaps moderate ingestion of this mushroom as food may indeed confer long life and good health on its users.”
Next ingredient: Day Lilies.
There are a number of culinary uses for day lilies. Fresh day lilies are great in salads, stuffed, battered and fried, or sauteed. They are also very nutritious, packing a variety of vitamins. Day lilies also play an important role in Chinese traditional medicine where they are used to help detoxification, urinary problems, jaundice, insomnia, coughs and…ahem…hemorrhoids.
Day lilies have been used as both food and medicine in China for over 2000 years.
A key ingredient in Chinese Hot and Sour Soup, dried day lilies can be purchased in Asian grocery stores, usually in the refrigerated section.
Now that you’re familiar with these two lesser known ingredients, let’s get started on the soup!
Place the mushrooms in a bowl.
Pour boiling water over them and soak for 20 minutes. Reserve 1 cup of the mushroom liquid.
Give the day lilies a brief rinse.
Place the day lilies in a bowl and pour hot water over them. Soak for 20 minutes.
While the mushrooms and day lilies are soaking, prepare the remaining ingredients.
Julienne the pork.
Mince 1 teaspoon of fresh ginger.
Place the pork in a small bowl and combine with the ginger and 1 teaspoon of soy sauce. Set aside while preparing the remaining ingredients.
Drain and julienne the bamboo shoots.
Cut the tofu into 1/4 inch cubes.
Drain the day lilies and squeeze out any excess liquid. Cut the hard ends off the lilies. Slice the lilies lengthwise.
Chop the lilies into 1 inch lengths.
Squeeze the water from the mushrooms. Slice the shiitakes and chop the wood ear mushrooms.
All the ingredients are now ready!
Bring the chicken stock and reserved mushroom liquid to a boil and add the soy sauce, vinegar, chile oil, sugar, hot sauce (adding more according to desired level of heat), and pepper. Add the pork, stirring to prevent the pork from sticking together, the bamboo shoots, and mushrooms. Simmer for 2 minutes.
Add the day lilies and the cornstarch mixture. Return to a boil and simmer for another minute until slightly thickened.
Add the tofu and simmer for another minute.
Lightly whisk the eggs in a bowl.
Pour the egg mixture in a steady stream into the simmering soup, remove from heat, and let sit for 20 seconds to let set in fine strands. Stir gently.
Add the sesame oil and green onions.
You’re ready to eat! A delicious bowl of authentic, restaurant-style Chinese hot and sour soup!
- 4 large dried shiitake mushrooms
- ¼ cup wood ear mushrooms
- ½ cup dried day lilies
- ¼ lb pork, finely julienned
- 1 teaspoon fresh ginger, finely minced
- 1 teaspoon soy sauce
- 5 cups chicken broth
- 1 cup reserved mushroom soaking liquid
- 3 tablespoons soy sauce
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1 teaspoon ground white pepper
- 4-5 tablespoons black vinegar according to desired sourness (see note)
- ½ cup bamboo shoots, drained and julienned
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch mixed in ¼ cup water
- 1 cup tofu, cut into ¼ inch cubes
- 2 eggs, lightly beaten
- 2 teaspoons sesame oil
- 2 teaspoons chili oil, or more depending on heat preference
- 1 teaspoon hot sauce (optional)
- 2 tablespoons chopped green onions
- Place the shiitake and wood ear mushrooms in a glass bowl and pour boiling water over them. Soak for 20 minutes. Reserve 1 cup of the mushroom liquid, discard the rest. Squeeze the liquid from the mushrooms. Slice the shiitakes and chop the wood ear mushrooms.
- While the mushrooms are soaking, quickly rinse the dried day lilies and soak them in hot water for 20 minutes. Discard the liquid, squeezing any excess from the lilies, cut the hard tips off the bottoms, slice the lilies lengthwise and chop into 1 inch lengths.
- While the mushrooms and day lilies are soaking, place the pork in a small bowl and combine it with the ginger and teaspoon soy sauce. Set aside while you're preparing the other ingredients.
- Bring the chicken broth and the reserved cup of mushroom liquid to a boil in a stock pot. Add the soy sauce, vinegar, sugar, chile oil, hot sauce (adding more according to desired level of heat), and pepper.
- Add the pork, stirring to prevent the pork from sticking together, the bamboo shoots, and mushrooms. Simmer for 2 minutes.
- Add the day lilies and the cornstarch mixture. Return to a boil and simmer for another minute until slightly thickened. Add the tofu and simmer for another minute.
- Pour the egg mixture in a steady stream into the simmering soup, remove from heat, and let sit for 20 seconds to let set in fine strands. Stir gently.
- Add the sesame oil and green onions.
Disclosure: I was not compensated by FungusAmongUs for this post. I received some mushrooms to sample and all opinions and entirely my own.