Hot + Sour Soup

Here's one for all you people with a cold.  (Seriously, everyone around me is sniffling.)  What's better than hot, spicy, tangy soup when you're sick?  Missing the traditional lilly buds and wood ear mushrooms of more traditional chinese hot and sour soups, all the ingredients for this one can be found in most well stocked grocery stores.  Szechuan peppercorns are toasted by placing in a hot pan on the stove, tossing occasionally and cooking until fragrant.  Grind with a spice grinder, clean coffee grinder or crush under a heavy pan or rolling pin.  

I recommend cutting and slicing everything small, so it fits on a spoon.  

Serves 4.

Hot + Sour Soup

2 oz prosciutto, julienned

8 oz firm tofu, julienned

4 shiitake mushroom caps, sliced

2.5 oz bamboo shoots, julienned

1 teaspoon minced ginger

1/2 teaspoon toasted, ground szechuan peppercorns 

32 oz chicken stock

2 tablespoons soy sauce

4 tablespoons rice vinegar

1 tablespoon cornstarch + 2 tablespoons water, optional

1 egg, beaten

1 tablespoon hot chile oil

scallion greens, thinly sliced, for garnish

In a small saucepan, bring prosciutto, tofu, shiitakes, bamboo shoots, pepper and stock to a boil.  Reduce to a simmer and add soy sauce and rice vinegar.  Whisk in cornstarch slurry, simmer until thickened.  

Remove from heat, stir soup in one direction to create a current and slowly pour in beaten egg.  It will turn into cooked, eggy ribbons.  Add hot chile oil and adjust seasoning with additional soy for salt, chile oil for heat or rice vinegar for sour.  

Garnish with scallions and serve with rice.  



Peking Duck + Mandrin Pancakes


Yum!  We made this over the weekend and it was great.  It's served with thin pancakes, slices of scallions, cucumber, hoisin sauce and siracha all rolled up into chinese style duck tacos.  Delightful.  

Peking duck is actually pretty simple to prepare, just requires a lot of time and attention.    To break it down it's 8-12 hours of drying in the fridge, a glaze bath, 4 hours of more drying and 3 hours of roasting.  

Whole ducks can be hard to find and might have to be ordered from your butcher' shop or counter so plan accordingly.  

Serves 4.

Peking Duck + Mandrin Pancakes

for the duck

1 whole duck, 4 to 5 lbs

baking soda


3 cups water

1/4 cup honey

1 inch ginger, peeled, sliced

2 scallions, halved

1 teaspoon five spice powder

2 tablespoons cornstarch dissolved in 1 cup water

3 tablespoons cooking sherry

for the pancakes

2 cups all purpose flour

2/3 cup boiling water

1/4 cup sesame oil

for serving

3 scallions, thinly sliced

1 cucumber, seeded, sliced

hoisin sauce


Remove neck, heart, anything from cavity of the duck.  Discard or save for making stock  another time.  Wash duck with cool water and dry inside and out with paper towels.  Trim excess fat and try to separate skin from breast if you can do it without breaking the skin.  Lightly dust duck with baking soda and salt.  Hang duck in fridge, uncovered, over a bowl, overnight to dry out skin.  

In a pan, combine water, honey, ginger, scallion and five spice powder.  Bring to a boil and whisk in cornstarch slurry.  Cook to a thin gravy consistency.  Stir in sherry.  Turn off heat and place duck in pan, spooning gravy over and into duck for 5 minutes until well coated.  Hang duck in a cool place in front of a fan to dry.  Dry for 4 hours.  

Heat oven to 300 degrees.  Place dry duck on a vertical roasting rack with a 1/4 cup of water in the base.  Set in larger rimmed pan in to catch drippings.  Roast for 3 hours, turning occasionally.  Duck should be dark brown with crispy skin and an internal temperature of 175 degrees.  

When the duck has an hour left of roasting, make pancakes.  Mix flour with boiling water.  Use a food processor or a wooden spoon to mix as it will be hot.  Mix/process into a shaggy dough.  Transfer dough to a floured surface and knead for 5 minutes until smooth.  Cut into 24 pieces.  

Use a rolling pin to roll each piece into a 4 inch circle.  Brush 12 of the dough circles with sesame oil.  Layer each with an un oiled circle.  Use rolling pin to roll each dough sandwich into a super thin 8 inch circle.  Keep covered with towel.  Heat skillet over high heat and cook each circle on each side until toasted spots appear.  Transfer to plate and peel apart the two layers.  Be careful, it will be full of steam.  Repeat with each dough circle.  Keep covered and warm until ready to use. 

Remove duck from oven and let rest 10 minutes before carving.  Carve into thin slices with skin on.  Serve with scallions, cucumbers, hoisin sauce and siracha.  Enjoy!