In my youth, I was so perplexed by the name...why is it called hot? because its spicey? or because it was scalding hot when it came to the table. Sour?...what made it sour? When I hear sour, I think lemons...but this was not that kind of sour. Yet, it was so overwhelmingly satisfying. It hit every tastebud in my mouth, and was rich, yet light, salty, yet not, sour, but not brashly so. (I would come to learn later this was Umami.) The soup was a culinary mystery to me.
Do you ever ask anyone, "What Chinese soup is your favorite?" and there are really just three answers, won-ton, egg-drop, or hot and sour. And everyone has their favorite. For me its the hot and sour all the way. And I decided I wanted to enjoy that favorite soup of my past.
So, I picked up some dried mushrooms at my local grocery and hit Google for a recipe. I found Tyler Florence's...it looked good, fairly simple...traditional...like I recalled from the Chinese restaurants. But there were some unusal ingredients, so it became a marathon of substitutions from my pantry.
Turns out they all worked brilliantly, and it tasted wonderful!
Here is my version inspired by Tyler's version.
- Dried mushrooms , about 1 cup dried
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 tbs. powdered ginger
- 2 sliced leeks, or use white onion (about 1 cup)
- Red Chile paste, such as sambal oelek
- ¼ tsp. red Chile paste (for mild)
- 1 tablespoon (for hot)
- 1/2 cup raw white beet, sliced into thin flat pieces (or use turnip, or celery! it all gives the same kind of texture and crunch)
- 1/4 cup gluten free tamarind sauce (GF soy sauce)
- 1/4 cup rice vinegar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- Black pepper
- ¼ tsp. (for mild)
- 1 tsp. (for hot)
- 1 quart GF beef broth, included in the quart the soaking liquid of the dried mushrooms
- 1.5 tablespoons cornstarch mixed with 1/4 cup water
- 1 large egg, lightly beaten
- Chopped green onions and cilantro leaves, for garnish (optional)
Place the dried mushrooms in a small bowl and cover with warm tap water. Let stand for 10-minutes to soften. Then drain liquid and add to beef stock. Slice the mushrooms thin.
In a soup pot, add the oil and over medium-high heat sautee the ginger, leeks, chili paste, mushrooms, and beet, cook and stir for 1 minute to infuse the flavor. Then add to the pot GF soy sauce sauce, vinegar, salt, pepper, and broth, bring the soup to simmer and simmer for 5-minutes.
Add the cornstarch slurry to the soup and maintain a simmer until the soup thickens, stirring. Drizzle in the egg and turn off the heat. Stir to incorporate the egg.