Hot and Sour Soup
10g/¼ oz dried cloud ears mushrooms
8 fresh shiitake mushrooms
75g/3 oz tofu (bean curd)
50g/2 oz/½ cup sliced, drained, canned bamboo shoots
900ml/1½ pints/ 3½-4 cups vegetable stock
15ml/1 tbsp caster sugar
45ml/ 3 tbsp rice vinegar
15ml/1 tbsp light soy sauce
1.5ml/¼ tsp chilli oil
2.5ml/½ tsp salt
large pinch of ground white pepper
15ml/1 tbsp cornflour
15ml/1 tbsp cold water
1 egg white
5ml/1 tsp sesame oil
2 spring onions, cut into fine rings
Soak the cloud ears in hot water for 30 mins or until soft. Drain, trim off and discard the hard base from each and chop the cloud ears roughly.
Remove and discard the stalks from the shiitake mushroms. Cut the caps into thin strips. Cut the tofu into 1cm/½ in cubes and shred the bamboo shoots finely.
Place the stock, mushrooms, tofu, bamboo shoots and cloud ears in a pan. Bring the stock to the boil, ower the heat and simmer for 5 mins.
Stir in the sugar, vinegar, soy sauce, chilli oil, salt and pepper. Mix the cornflour to a paste with the water. Add the mixture to the soup, stirring constantly until it thickens slightly.
Lightly beat the egg white, then pour it slowly into the soup in a steady steam, stirring constantly. Cook, stirring, until the egg white changes colour.
Add the sesame oil to the pan just before serving. ladle the soup into heated bowls and decorate each portion wth a few sliced spring onion rings. Serve piping hot.