Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Hot and sour soup 酸辣湯

Hot and sour soup

Every Chinese restaurants or "imbiss" sell hot and sour soup. I'm really confused however, on how in the world they turn hot and sour soup into tomato-red in color... makes you wonder where do they get their recipe doesn't it? And by "they", I really mean all the "imbiss". I mean, I've been to all over Germany (Münich, Ulm, Hannover and Stuttgart) and the hot and sour soup they sell all look the same! The real authentic hot and sour soup is actually clear or milky-white in color that comes from the egg drop. While the hotness of the soup is from white pepper and not red chili (I guess that's why they're selling "red" hot and sour soup. To show that its "spicy")

This soup is actually very simple to make. In fact, I always have the ingredients ready in my pantry . Thus I call this dish my emergency soup. The only time-consuming process in making this soup is actually preparing the ingredients, since they all need to be cut into fine strips.

This recipe is requested by YK, and just for her, here it is:
suan la dang ingredients

Hot and Sour Soup ( 酸辣湯/suan la tang)
100 gr Chicken breast, cut into fine strips
1 handful ear wood mushroom (mu er), soaked in hot water and julienned
1 handful Shitake mushroom, soaked in hot water and julienned
1 handful dried lily buds, soaked in hot water and cut into half
1/2 block firm tofu, julienned
1 egg, squirreled
Chicken stock powder
Black vinegar
light soy sauce
white pepper powder
sesame oil
vegetable oil/peanut oil
handful of sichuan pepper corn
5 dried chilli

  • marinade chicken strips with salt, pepper and sesame oil, add 1 tbs starch, mixed well and let it sit for 30 minutes in the fridge
  • prepare chili oil: heat vegetable oil in high heat until it start to smoke. pour in sichuan pepper corn and dried chili (caution: your kitchen is going to smell like hot pepper so open the window). Or you can skip this step and buy yeo's chili oil in asia market
  • Pour the chili oil in a cup and set aside
  • Use 2 tbs chili oil you just made and sautee the chicken strips in them. Use a spatula to separate the chicken (this is how you get those fine stripes)
  • Transfer chicken strips into a pot and add in water (or chicken broth if you have them)
  • Quickly add in ear wood mushroom, shitake mushroom and lily bud mushroom until the soup starts to boil. Add chicken stock powder (skip this step if you used chicken broth)
  • Once the soup boils add in tofu stripes
  • In a cup, mix black vinegar, light soy sauce and white pepper (be generous with the white pepper, like I said the hotness comes from white pepper)
  • pour the sauce into the soup and taste, you might need to add soy sauce or black vinegar depending if you need more saltiness or acidity.
  • Pour in the squirreled egg into soup, while pouring, stir the soup in a motion. With this simple step you made fine stripes of egg flower
  • In a different cup, dilute 1 Tbs starch with water
  • Turn off the heat and add the starch solution into the soup, starch solution helps to thicken the soup.
  • Add some drops of sesame oil and chili oil to add some aroma to the soup
It might sounds complicated, but actually the process of cooking is only about 15 minutes. The rest is only preparation. By the way, feel free to add in bamboo shoots or Zha Cai (chinese mustard vegetables).

I sometimes recycle the leftovers soup by adding noodles into the soup, turning them into 酸辣湯面 (suan la tang mian) -> hot and sour soup with noodle. A simple trick to use when I want a quick meal, but sick of instant noodle.


  1. We have a version of this soup here in NYC, it's called egg drop soup. Never tried it myself so I'm not really sure if it live up to the original Suan La Tang. But we do have a typical "imbiss" soup -> wonton soup @__@ every imbiss has them and they all taste nasty!

  2. Hi Cherry,

    Thanks for commenting, Yeah Imbiss soup are really nasty they're inedible!! but I'm sure New york has authentic Suan la tang somewhere. I heard about NYC China town (flushing) has lots of authentic Chinese food. Do visit them and tell me about them.