_I am jones-ing for a bowl of proper hot and sour soup right now. Where the stock isn't overly sweet (ahem, Golden Dragon in Mayfield Road) or too sour (ahem, the rest of the Americana Chinese restaurants in Cleveland).

The keys to a proper H&S soup are:
1. Proper use of white pepper
2. Proper use of corn starch "slurry"
3. Cutting all the ingredients into thin julienne strips proportional to the rest of the ingredients
and 4. Not overloading the soup with ingredients.
Ingredients
  • 5 dried wood ear mushrooms
  • 4 dried shiitake mushrooms
  • 1/3 cup dried lily flowers
  • 4 cups chicken stock
  • 1/3 cup diced bamboo shoots
  • 1/2 cup pork loin, thinly sliced and quick marinated with sesame oil, salt/pepper and cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoon soy sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon white sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground white pepper
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 3 tablespoons water
  • 1/2 package firm tofu, cubed
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 2 tablespoons thinly sliced green onion
Directions
  1. Soak the dried mushrooms and lily flowers in warm water for 20 minutes. After trimming off any tough stems, slice the mushrooms. With your hands, break apart the lily stems. Julienne them all into thin, similarly sized strips.
  2. Saute the the pork in a sauce pan with a little oil. When it's about half cooked, place the mushrooms, lily flowers, stock and bamboo shoots into the saucepan. Bring to a boil, and simmer for 10 minutes.
  3. Stir in soy sauce, sugar, salt, white pepper, sesame oil and vinegar. Combine cornstarch with 3 tablespoons water. Add a little of the hot soup to the cornstarch, and then return all to the pan. Bring to a rolling boil. Add the firm tofu, and cook for a few minutes more.
  4. Just before serving, turn off the heat. Gradually pour the beaten egg in circular motion, let stand for a few moments before very lightly and very gently stirring. Taste and season if needed.
  5. Ladle into bowls and garnish each bowl with diced scallion and a splash of red chili oil. 
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