Hot and Sour Soup

This classic Chinese soup recipe was given to me by Chef But of the late Ken Lo’s Memories of China restaurant in Belgravia, London. He uses plenty of ground white pepper rather than chillies to create the necessary bite.


  • dried mushrooms 4 medium
  • dried shrimps 1 tbsp
  • lean pork 75 g/ oz, sliced into matchstick strips
  • chicken stock 1.5 litres/ pints, preferably home-made
  • raw tiger prawns 6 large, shelled
  • firm tofu 100 g/ oz, sliced into 1cm/½in cubes
  • canned bamboo shoots 50 g/ oz, shredded
  • frozen peas 50 g/ oz
  • spring onions 2, finely chopped
  • sea salt 1 tsp
  • egg 1, beaten
  • toasted sesame oil 2 tsp

For the Hot and Sour Mixture

  • water 4 tbsp
  • white wine vinegar 3 tbsp
  • light soy sauce 2 tbsp
  • cornflour 1 tbsp
  • white peppercorns 1 tsp, freshly ground


Put the mushrooms and shrimps in separate bowls and cover with boiling water. Leave to soak for 15 minutes, then drain. Slice the mushrooms into thin shreds.

Mix the hot and sour ingredients to a paste.

Put the pork, mushrooms, shrimps and stock in a large saucepan. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 10 minutes.

Add the prawns, tofu, bamboo shoots, peas, spring onions and sea salt. Simmer gently for a few more minutes until the prawns and peas are cooked through.

Stir in the hot and sour paste. When the soup thickens, pour in the beaten egg in a thin stream. Ladle into bowls and sprinkle with a few drops of toasted sesame oil.