Growing up I never liked or remotely appreciated Chinese food. Since take-out isn’t particularly healthy and is deemed an occasional greasy and guilty pleasure by most people, including my parents, they didn’t push the issue at all. I think I once tried a wanton and begrudgingly said it was okay.
But, yes, I did manage to make it to my mid-twenties having never really tried much in the way of Asian food. When Matt and I started dating, he offered to take me to a nice Chinese restaurant once, and I informed him I didn’t really like Chinese. He told me later he wondered then if this was going to work out. Instead of breaking up with me, he decided to try and persuade me to at least try it. I’m glad he did, for two reasons:
1) I’m glad we’re still together, and
2) I really, really like most Asian food!
I have now come to appreciate so many Asian dishes and cuisines. I love sushi (something I previously wouldn’t touch with a ten foot pole), I’m obsessed with Thai food, and I think Korean barbecue is delicious. I now find Vietnamese food wonderful, noodle bowls delightful, and my bucket list includes going to Singapore and eating at a noodle shop. While at one point this would never have appealed to me, now Matt and I love exploring a city’s Chinatown, or other Asian neighborhood, like K-Town in New York or Little Tokyo in Los Angeles. And frankly, those are some of the best meals I’ve ever eaten.
I must confess though, that I’ve never completely warmed to hot and sour soup. I’ve always thought it was okay, but not great. However, as it is one of Matt’s favorites, I did want to make it for him at least once. This soup really grew on me as I ate it. At first I thought the vinegar was too strong, and I would probably recommend cutting back on the stated amount, then adding more as you feel is desired. However, the soup had really mellowed after a few bites, and I really enjoyed it. The heat was just the right amount. All in all, a very nice dish!
So… what is your favorite Asian neighborhood? What city is it in? Is it a Chinatown or something different? What do you love about it?
Source: Global Kitchen, by Jeffrey Saad
1 tbs cornstarch
1 tbs cool water
1 tbs toasted sesame oil
4 ounces white mushrooms, chopped
4 scallions, thinly sliced
1 tsp grated fresh ginger
1 tsp finely chopped fresh garlic
1/4 to 1/2 cup rice wine vinegar
1 tsp sugar
1 tbs soy sauce
1/2 tsp kosher salt
2 tsp Sriracha
1 quart chicken stock
2 large eggs
1/2 cup firm tofu, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1/2 cup fresh cilantro, roughly chopped
In a small bowl, mix together the cornstarch and water and set aside.
In a large soup pot over medium-high heat, add the sesame oil. Once the oil is hot, add the mushrooms. Cook for a few minutes until soft. Add the scallions, ginger, and garlic. Cook for 2 minutes. Add 1/4 cup rice wine vinegar, sugar, soy sauce, salt and Sriracha. Cook for 2 minutes to infuse all the flavors.
Add the stock and bring to a boil. While whisking the soup, slowly pour in the cornstarch mixture. Whisk until combined and the soup starts to thicken. Shut off the heat.
In a small bowl, beat the eggs until just mixed. Slowly pour the eggs into the pot, stirring continuously in a circular motion. Continue to stir for 30 seconds. You will see the egg cook in long strands and the soup will take on a creamy look, though it will still have a broth consistency.
Taste the soup to test the vinegar amount at this time. Add more, up to another 1/4 cup, if you think it is lacking. Now add the tofu and cilantro, and serve immediately.