Bean Curd Skin Soup

Fuzhu Tang

Preparation info

    Appears in

    Mrs. Chiang’s Szechwan Cookbook

    By Ellen Schrecker

    Published 1976

    • About

    Bean curd skin was a relative luxury in the Szechwanese countryside. It couldn’t be produced at home, and its unusual texture lifted it out of the ordinary class of foods. Like most texture foods, bean curd skin has little flavor of its own, and was used by Mrs. Chiang’s mother in delicate dishes like this soup, where its interesting resilience could best be appreciated. The soup itself is delightful, its subtle flavor and extraordinary texture accentuated by the slight piquancy of shredded ginger.

    Elsewhere in China, bean curd skin plays an important role in vegetarian haute cuisine. Clever Buddhist monks have devised many ways to prepare it to approximate ham or chicken or shrimp. Of course it never does, but its pliancy and slightly musty taste do provide for some very intriguing dishes.

    Dried bean curd skin comes in thin, shiny, brittle white sheets that have to be soaked before they can be used. They are available at Chinese markets in 8- and 16-ounce packages.

    Method

    Preparation

    4 sheets dried bean curd shin

    3 cups boiling water, approximately

    After you have separated the sheets of bean curd skin from one another — no easy task — break them into large pieces, roughly 4 inches square. Put them in a bowl and pour boiling water over them. The bean curd will begin to soften and turn white very quickly, but let it stand for 10 or 15 minutes to make sure that all of it is soft.
    1 inch piece fresh ginger Peel the ginger, then cut it into 4 thin slices.
    2 scallions Clean the scallions, then cut them, both white part and green, crosswise into little pieces, about ⅛ inch wide.
    (bean curd skin) Drain the pieces of bean curd skin and rinse them under cold running water, then cut them into narrow strips, around ⅛ inch wide.
    3 egg whites Beat the egg whites until frothy and set aside.

    Cooking

    1 can (10-¾ ounces) chicken broth

    3 cups water

    (bean curd skin)

    (ginger)

    Bring the chicken broth and water to a boil in a saucepan. Add the bean curd strips and ginger slices, and, when the soup boils again, reduce the heat, cover the pan, and let it simmer for 20 minutes.

    (scallions)

    2 teaspoons salt, or to taste

    Add the chopped scallions to the soup and taste it for salt; add as much as it needs.
    (egg whites)

    Give the egg whites another whir with beater, then pour, stirring, into the soup. (The heat of the soup cooks the egg whites immediately, and if you don’t stir the soup they will coagulate and form large lumps instead of fine shreds.)

    As soon as all the egg whites are cooked, serve the soup.