It makes me sad that practically all Chinese food (practically all? I think I can safely say “all”) is off limits because of the soy sauce. Just one simple substitution would, in most cases, make every dish on a Chinese restaurant’s menu edible. Sigh. We’ll have to make do making our own at home. On that note, anyone know of a good Chinese cooking school I can attend to learn to make some of the staples at home with tamari? I’ve got a FEVER and ain’t no cowbell gonna cure it!

Here’s a recipe I’ve sussed out already. It does a pretty dern good job of feeding the beast. Plus, it has the added bonus of being veggie, which hot and sour soup at the Chinese restaurant is most certainly not.

Feed the beast: Hot & Sour Soup

Feed the beast: Hot & Sour Soup

Hot and Sour Soup

  • 8 cups veggie broth
  • 1/4 c. tamari (more depending on how salty your broth is)
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 4 half-inch slices of ginger
  • 1 5 oz. can of bamboo shoots, julienned
  • 8 oz. shiitake mushrooms, sliced
  • small handful dried wood ear mushrooms (julienned or whole)
  • 1/4 of a block of firm tofu
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/4 c. white vinegar
  • 4 T cornstarch
  • 4-5 scallions
  • 4 T sesame oil
  • 1/4-1/2 tsp chili flakes and/or chili garlic or freshred chili*

Bring veggie broth to a boil. Add minced garlic, tamari, ginger slices, julienned bamboo, sliced shiitakes, and wood ears. Beat the egg and while whisking the boiling soup, pour the egg in slowly. Lovely little egg strings should appear and float to the top. In a small bowl, combine cornstarch and vinegar. Pour this mixture into the soup – without it the egg doesn’t stay suspended in the broth and just floats to the top looking icky. Turn the heat down so the soup simmers and add the tofu (diced or thickly julienned), chili goo of your choice, and sesame oil. Just before serving add the scallions and tamari to taste. Makes 4 small bowls. Mmm… taste like Chinese food.

*Shopping in Chinatown is always a bit of a crapshoot. Consistency in stocking just doesn’t exist. Or maybe it’s that everything is in Chinese so if they change the packaging on you (or their English translator), you’re toast. Then you have the added obstacle of finding one delightful something-or-other one time and then you can’t remember which store you got it from when you run out. Ah, yes. It is an adventure. But I digress. We’re talking chilis, people! There are two prepared chili thingies that we use incessantly in our house. One is fairly ubiquitous – our local grocery store even carries it so I’m thinking yours might too. It’s the Sambal Oelek chili sauce. The second is the hilariously named “Freshred Chili Pepper” by Master Sauce Co, Inc. Really, any Asian chili sauce you can lay your hands on will do, but these are tasty if you happen to run across them.