How to make Chinese food Hot and Sour Soup? I’ll be honest.For a long time, I was pretty sure that Hot and Sour soup was really more of one of those American takeout dishes.
See, while you can definitely find a few different.
Suanlatangs or “Hot and Sour soups” around the country, even up north it’s nowhere near as ubiquitous as in takeout joints abroad.
Everywhere, that is, except for Wuxi.
How To Make Chinese Food Hot And Sour Soup?
If you’re not familiar with the town, Wuxi is one of the oldest cities in the Jiangsu province and as it turns out, probably the origin of Hot and Sour soup.
The sources are murky, but that soup is likely based on an older and, in China at least, better-known soup from the Henan province, Hula tang or Hot Pepper soup – the ‘la’ or ‘hot’ in both referring to the zing of white pepper.
The Wuxi version added in some of the region’s famed Zhenjiang vinegar [i.e. Chinkiang] to the mix, and what you would probably recognize as the hot and sour soup was born.
So that’s the version we wanted to show you today.
Whatever the history, what is certain is that this soup is absolutely incredible, and to be honest, actually what made me a convert
of the dish.
But right, to get started with the hot and sour soup we’ll need broth, a beef broth to be exact.
Here we had 500 grams of beef shank, and before you do anything, first toss that in some cool water to soak.
The water draws out a bit of the myoglobin and makes for a cleaner tasting soup, so let that sit for at least one hour.
An hour later now, transfer the beef over to a pot.
Then together with your meat toss in two-star anise, a half teaspoon Sichuan peppercorn, one teaspoon of white peppercorn, a two-inch knob of ginger, one sprig of scallion tied in a knot, and a solid glug, or about two tablespoons of liaojiu a.k.a. Shaoxing wine.
Then fill it up with water until the beef’s completely submerged cover, and over a high flame bring that all up to a boil.
And once it’s at a boil, turn the flame to the lowest heat your stove go, cover, and let that simmer for at least two hours.
So as that’s simmering, let’s prep our dried ingredients.
There is a bunch of stuff that’ll go in this Hot and Sour soup, but these are the ones that’ll need to be soaked in advance.
Here we had five grams mu’er or wood ear mushrooms, twenty grams huanghuacai dried daylilies, which do seem to be readily available at Chinese supermarkets abroad, and five grams dried shiitake mushrooms all of these soaked by the way using cool water.
Then this last dried ingredient here is sweet potato noodles, which is a classic for the dish and also widely used in Korean cooking,
so they should be able to be found at most Asian supermarkets.
Let those soak for about two hours, or until the broth is done cooking.
After two hours, your beef should be tender enough that you can poke through the thing with a chopstick.
So shut off the heat, and once it’s cool enough to handle, after about twenty minutes, transfer over to a cutting board.
Then shred that by first slicing it into chunks, then pull those apart into strings.
You definitely don’t have to be too paranoid here, something like this would be totally fine.
So then together with that shredded beef, we’ll also be cooking this with 250 grams silken tofu, the firm sort, cut into half centimeter sheets, then again into half centimeter slivers 50 grams Qianzhang which abroad seems to be labeled as soy tofu sheets, folded twice hot dog style and once in the other direction and sliced into half centimeter slivers.
We’ve also got here our previously soaked ingredients the daylilies were prepped by slicing them into one-inch pieces, the
shiitake mushrooms got their stems removed and julienned the sweet potato noodles were cut down to the same size as the day lily, and the mu’er were given a couple rough chops in each direction.
So with the exception of the daylilies and shiitake mushrooms, feel free to just skip anything you have trouble sourcing here, because one of the most classic additions in this Wuxi version is fried seitan puffs.
So yeah, I get the sense that this one might end up a bit of a sourcing headache, so if you can’t find it our recommendation
would be to swap these with Youtiao Fried dough or, again, just skip it.
But then with all that prepped, we can finally make our soup.
So this recipe makes four servings, and for authenticity bonus points here we’re making an individual serving in our adorable little
So for this one serving add in a quarter of the mushrooms, the daylilies, and the sweet potato noodles and top with 350 milliliters
of that beef broth.
Then toss the flame to medium-high and season with a quarter teaspoon dark soy sauce, one teaspoon light soy sauce, a half teaspoon salt, and a quarter teaspoon of sugar.
Give it a mix, and once it’s all at a boil toss in a quarter of the silken tofu.
Then thicken with a slurry of two tablespoons water mixed with one and a half tablespoons of starch, preferably potato starch but cornstarch would be ok in a pinch.
Let it simmer for about 30 seconds or thickened to your liking, then add in one teaspoon of white pepper powder and mix it thoroughly to make sure there’s no clumps.
Then add in a tablespoon of vinegar, and for this Wuxi hot and sour using Zhenjiang vinegar [Chinkiang] a.k.a. xiangcu is unfortunately non-negotiable.
Brief mix, then top with a bit of your beef,some of the torn seitan puffs or Youtiao,and a handful of chopped cilantro.
Drizzle in a touch or about a half teaspoon of toasted sesame oil, and serve.
At a Hot and Sour soup joint in Wuxi, this’s often eaten alongside a plate of either potstickers or fried Baozi.
And just in case you do want it like, actually spicy hot, a bit of chili oil that you could optionally toss in but for us, we
generally prefer it without.
So there are definitely a few different Suanlatangs around the country.
One interesting version is in Taiwan they’ll add duck blood to the mix I also saw people add Enoki mushrooms, Egg Drop.
I also saw people adding in green garlic instead of cilantro – so maybe just like, add what you like and make it yours.
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