Chinese Hot & Sour Soup

Throw back to one year ago: World ARC 2018. I planned this meal in advance of this epic trip knowing we had lots of tofu on board. Tofu is a great protein to take cruising, as purchased in cans, it does not require refrigeration. And beautiful Torie, Admiral of beautiful SV Solitude, loves her tofu and anything vegan. Hot and Sour Soup was the first thing that came to my mind. Plus the fact that I was planning on growing bean sprouts on board and had brought dried mushrooms made this soup a slam dunk.

Traditional Hot & Sour Soup is made with pork loin and chicken broth. We’re leaning toward vegan this evening so are making this soup without the pork and substituting vegetable broth (or bouillon) for chicken broth. Plus we’re adding bean sprouts which are not always included in Hot and Sour Soup.

Chinese Hot & Sour Soup

Jump to Recipe

1/2 cup of dried mushrooms, tree ear mushrooms are preferable
4 cups chicken broth (or vegetable broth if you wish to keep this vegan)
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
2 tablespoon soy sauce
2 teaspoons sesame oil + a few drop more
1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 1/2 teaspoons freshly ground white pepper
1/2 cup canned sliced bamboo shoots
3 to 4 oz firm tofu (about a half of a block), rinsed and drained, then cut into 1/4-inch-thick strips
1  tablespoons cornstarch, dissolved into 1/4 cup water
2 large eggs
1 cup bean sprouts
4-6 scallions (spring onions) sliced

Soak mushrooms in warm water until soft, about 30 minutes. Drain and set aside.

In your largest pot, heat up the broth, rice vinegar, soy sauce, sesame oil, sugar, and kosher salt to a simmer.

Add the mushrooms and bamboo shoots and warm through for 2 minutes.  Add the corn starch that has been dissolved in water and stir constantly until it thickens. If it becomes too thick add water or broth.

Fold in the tofu and bean sprouts. And speaking of bean sprouts, here’s lessons learned:

Growing Bean Sprouts in Your Head*

* Not mentally in your head, but physically: in your sailboat head.

Growing Bean Sprouts in Your Head*
DAY 1: Starting out Fill with Water Put the lid on DAYS 2-3: Rinse and Repeat DAY 4: Sprouting and Growing DAY 5: Hmmm... DAY 6: Waterloo

DAY 1: Starting out

I read this trick from the website The Art of Doing Stuff and it seemed to be something I could do on a boat...needing 3 plastic containers, one lid, a half cup of mung beans and water. In the bottom of one of the three containers, drill holes NO BIGGER than the beans. (I had to do this before I boarded the boat.) Place the container with holes inside one of the other containers. Fill the bottom with mung beans.

Fill with Water

Pour water into the container, just covering the mung beans. Don't overfill. Having the "colander-like" container makes it easy to lift out and rinse the beans that's required every 12 hours.

Put the lid on

Now place the remaining container on top of the beans, fill with water to weigh it down and put the lid on it to keep it from spilling. If you can get over the thought of growing food next to the toilet, the beauty about doing this in the head (my own private head!) is that you can put the covered dish in the sink and not worry about it flying around under way.

DAYS 2-3: Rinse and Repeat

Every 12 hours gently rinse the beans, replace with fresh water and return the other container and lid on top. Try to keep the beans from moving around under the water rinse. By the third day you should see your mung beans beginning to sprout.

DAY 4: Sprouting and Growing

Each day you will notice a little more growth. Continue to rinse and refill every 12 hours.

DAY 5: Hmmm...

The bean sprouts continue to grow longer. But something seems wrong. They're looking a little brown and beginning to...smell. I knew this wouldn't fly. If only I had really read the rest of that blog post. Do I stop watering them? Water them more? Should they have sun now? Is the smell normal?

DAY 6: Waterloo

Santa Marta, Columbia. This is where the sprouts met their fate. I was hoping by now they would look like a handful of crisp sprouts you pull out of the Whole Foods produce bin. And something kept coming back to me that I read on the website: Because of the risk of salmonella and E. coli There is a danger to eating raw sprouts. We were a hundred miles offshore; I just couldn't risk making us all sick from either the smell or the bacteria. So after a week of prepping this project, I threw the whole thing into the C-Dock trash can at Marina Santa Marta. Without blinking an eye.

Beat eggs with a fork and add a few drops of sesame oil. Add eggs to soup in a thin stream, stirring slowly in one direction with a spoon. Stir in white pepper, then drizzle in remaining sesame oil. Sprinkle with scallions  before serving.

Always a great meal to have off shore while the sun is setting…


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