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Sunday Food: Hot and Sour Soup to Begin Chinese Wooden Sheep Year


Hot and Sour Soup

(Picture courtesy of Jen R at

Searching for a good way to celebrate Chinese New Year, I came across a small anomaly, that the year begins February 4 because that is the date of the Wooden Sheep.   However, the New Year celebration is named as February 19th.   Since no date is too early for hot and sour soup,, I am going to begin celebrating on the earlier date.

According to Chinese Astrology, the Year 2015 is the Green Wood Sheep year. The first day of the Sheep year is onFebruary 4, 2015. This day is different from Chinese New Year Day, because Chinese Astrology calendar is not a simple Chinese Lunar calendar.

In the Chinese New Year of Sheep, Chinese always mention San-Yang-Kai-Tai Three Sheep Auspicious Begin, which means “Three Goats Start Fortune”. Actually the term is from Three Yang Auspicious Begin, which means “Three Yang Start Fortune”. Chinese replace Chinese Yang Character by Chinese Sheep Character. Both Chinese Yang Characterand Chinese Sheep Character are pronounced as Yang. Chinese Sheep Character is Sheep. Chinese Yang Character is Male and is the word from Chinese Yin Yang CharacterYin Yang.

A favorite of mine, hot and sour soup has a reputation for being anti-carcinogenic, which we can all enjoy, and I particularly love the healing tang of it.

Hot and Sour Soup

 Serves 4

6 dried shiitake mushrooms

1 quart chicken stock, fresh or canned
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon soy sauce (or tamari, if making gluten-free)
1/2 cup canned bamboo shoots, drained and sliced into matchsticks
1/4 pound boneless pork cutlet
3/4 cup firm tofu, sliced into matchsticks
1/4 teaspoon ground white pepper
4 tablespoons white vinegar
3 tablespoons cornstarch mixed with 4 tablespoons cold water
1 large egg, lightly beaten
Sesame oil
1 scallion, finely chopped

Place the mushrooms in a small bowl and cover with hot water. Let stand about 15 minutes to rehydrate.

Meanwhile, combine the chicken stock, salt, and soy sauce in a soup pot and bring to a boil. While waiting for the liquid to heat, trim any fat off the pork and cut it in strips 1/2-inch long and 1/4-inch thick.

Remove the mushrooms from the hot water. Strain any grit from the the mushroom water, then pour it in the soup pot. Slice the mushrooms thinly.

Add the bamboo, sliced mushrooms, and sliced pork to the now-boiling soup. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 3 minutes. Add the tofu, pepper, and vinegar to the pot. Bring to a boil again. Stir in the cornstarch mixed with water to the pot, and continue stirring until the mixture is thickened, about 2 to 3 minutes. Turn off the heat and add the egg, stirring gently.

Ladle the hot soup in bowls and garnish with a teaspoon of sesame oil and some chopped scallions.

Recipe Notes

  • This could easily be made vegetarian or vegan by substituting kombu dashi or vegetable broth for the chicken stock and omitting the pork and/or the egg.
  • If you want more sourness, try another tablespoon of vinegar.
  • If you want an even thicker soup, add another tablespoon of corn starch mixed with water.

This is a must for me when I go out for Chinese food, and is a stand alone dish that represents the best of comfort food.

As I will be driving to Big Bend today, I am not going to be commenting until I stop somewhere with an internet.   Thank you for carrying on the conversation, and thanks to msmolly for shepherding last Sunday, but I hated to ask her to fill in again.

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Ruth Calvo

Ruth Calvo

I've blogged at The Seminal for about two years, was at cabdrollery for around three. I live in N.TX., worked for Sen.Yarborough of TX after graduation from Wellesley, went on to receive award in playwriting, served on MD Arts Council after award, then managed a few campaigns in MD and served as assistant to a member of the MD House for several years, have worked in legal offices and written for magazines, now am retired but addicted to politics, and join gladly in promoting liberals and liberal policies.