Melissa Elsmo

When it comes to Asian soups Tom Yum and Hot and Sour have to be my all time favorites…my husband’s, too!  Unlike brothyThai soups, Chinese Hot and Sour can often turn out to be an incredibly gelatinous disappointment when poorly prepared. When done well, however, the soup’s delicate balance between acid and spice is both addictive and refreshing.  Give my version a whirl and spice up your table!

Hot and Sour 101


  • 1/4 Cup dried cloud ear mushrooms
  • 1/4 Cup dried porcini mushrooms
  • 1 1/2 Cup boiling water
  • 6 Tablespoons rice wine vinegar
  • 3 Tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 Tablespoon cornstarch
  • 6-ounces center cut pork chop, sliced into 1/4″ strips
  • 4 1/2 Cup chicken stock
  • Slurry (3 Tablespoons cornstarch mixed with 3 Tablespoons water until smooth)
  • 4-ounces extra firm tofu, cut like the pork
  • 1/4 Cup Bamboo Shoots, cut into julienne strips
  • 1 teaspoon coarse black Pepper (more or less to taste)*
  • 1 Large egg, beaten
  • 1 Tablespoon sesame oil
  • Scallions, for garnish
  • Rice Vinegar and Chili Oil, for the table


Pour the boiling water over the dried mushrooms and set aside for twenty minutes.  Meanwhile combine the vinegar, soy, cornstarch, and pork in a bowl and set aside.  Drain the mushrooms and strain  the liquid through a fine sieve lined with a wet paper towel; reserve.  Slice the mushrooms into strips and set aside. 

Heat the chicken stock in a pot and add the mushroom liquid.  Bring to a boil and gradually add the slurry. Whisk until mixture thickens slightly and add the meat (with marinade), tofu, bamboo shoots and pepper.  Bring soup back to a simmer and stir clockwise several times before adding the egg in a steady stream into the swirling soup.  Allow to sit without stirring until the egg sets into ribbons.  Remove soup from heat and add the sesame oil.  Garnish with scallions and allow diners to add vinegar and chili oil as desired.

* Few people know the “hot” in hot and sour soup comes from black pepper. Adjust the seasoning according to your personal tastes. Added chili oil will satisfy 

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