Of northern origin, this soup became popular in all regions of China. Over there, it is not authentic unless the silky congealed chicken or duck blood is used. While it does contribute to creating a very smooth texture, the soup is not lesser without it. This is what I call a “mixed” soup, and true to form, it is flexible. Besides pork, it may be made with chicken, beef, veal, small shrimp, or fillets of fish. The vegetables may be varied too, out of convenience, such as substituting fresh mushrooms for the dried Chinese mushrooms and shredded peeled broccoli stem for the bamboo shoots. Sharp and peppery, it’s an ideal cold-weather soup; it warms you from within, giving you a glowing sense of comfort.
Cut the meat against the grain into
Place the black mushrooms, the mo-er mushrooms, and Golden Needles in separate bowls. Pour about
When ready to cook, dissolve the cornstarch and beat the egg in separate bowls. Measure the seasonings into the final serving bowl and set aside.
Bring the stock to a boil in a soup pot over high heat; Add the black Chinese mushrooms, the Golden Needles, and the bamboo shoots. Adjust heat to low and simmer, covered, for 5 minutes. Stir in the meat, raise heat, and when it boils again, add the bean curd and mo-er mushrooms. Lower heat, cover, and simmer for about 3 minutes. Give the cornstarch mixture a big stir and add to the soup slowly with one hand as you stir with the other until it is satiny smooth. Turn off the heat. Pour the beaten egg over the surface in a wide circle; as it congeals into floating ribbons, stir gently a few times to break them into chiffony flakes.
Pour the soup into the serving bowl that has the seasonings in it. Scatter the coriander or scallions on top, and stir the soup up from the bottom a few times at table before serving individual portions.
Placing the seasonings for mixed soups directly into the serving bowl is an established cooking habit of professional cooks in China. Ar-chang would never deviate from this practice, insisting the soup is more flavorful because the “fragrance” is intact in the serving bowl. I fully agree but you may season to taste after the soup is poured into the serving bowl.
This is often done with “mixed” soups, especially when stock is not available. To give the soup a more vivid flavor, the meat and vegetables are stir-fried in oil with seasonings, then water is added instead of stock for a brief simmering.
Prepare everything exactly as before. When ready to cook, heat the soup pot over high heat until hot. Add
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