Having spent a year of my life in China, I have had the opportunity of tasting a wide range of specialities, from camel feet in the Gobi desert, over frog legs and duck tongues in Shanghai, to fried worms in Kunming. Yuck, some of you might think. Worth the experience I would say!
For me, food is an incremental part of every culture and especially in China, where there is a lot of variety across the country and its different provinces, it’s worth trying what makes it onto your plate (with exception of endangered species, of course, and no I have never come across dog meat). Chinese are very proud of offering their specialities to you and can be surprised that people from the more Western parts of this planet are not quite used to their spicy food (and with spicy I mean tears running down your cheeks and possibly a numb tongue!).
Ironically, you won’t really find this type of sweet & sour soup in a restaurant in China as sweet&sour dishes are quite rare and a specialty mainly eaten in the South. Our preference for sweet & sour dishes definitely comes from our local Chinese restaurants at home. Another difficulty with Chinese dishes is that you won’t find all traditional ingredients in the supermarket, sometimes not even in the Asian corner store, that’s why I recommend this tasty recipe. You should be able to find all ingredients in your regular supermarket.
1-2 onions (red or white)
1 small glass of pickles/cornichons
200g cocktail tomatoes
1 pack of fresh or canned soy sprouts or a can of bamboo sprouts
A handful of dried mu-err mushrooms (also sold as Chinese black mushrooms)
1 bunch of spring onions (for decoration)
2 chicken breasts
3-4 cm of ginger
Sambal oelek or chili sauce, ketchup, soy sauce, salt, sugar
1 tablespoon flour or corn starch
A few tablespoons of rice vinegar or cider vinegar
1) Bring 2l of water to boil.
2) Peel and slice your ginger piece, add into the boiling water and let boil for 10 min.
3) Now add your chicken breast to the boiling water and let boil for 15 min.
4) Meanwhile, clean and cut the vegetables, and soak the mushrooms in a bowl with cold water.
5) Sauté first the onions, then the soy sprouts, pickles/cornichons and tomatoes in a pan, season with ketchup and sambal oelek or chili sauce.
6) After approximately 15 min take the chicken out of the broth and pull the meat with a fork into thin pieces.
7) Now add your sautéd vegetables, the chicken meat and the remaining vegetables (carrots, mushrooms, bamboo sprouts) to the broth.
8) Generously season with soy sauce, and add a tablespoon of sugar, some more chili sauce and 3-4 tablespoons of vinegar to create the typical Chinese sweet & sour taste.
9) Bring to a boil and dissolve a tablespoon of flour or corn starch in 3 tablespoons of cold water in a small cup.
10) Pour the starch mix into the soup and let boil for another 5-10 min until the soup thickens up a little bit.
11) Serve in small bowls and garnish with finely chopped spring onions.
Zai Jian (good bye), my friends and blog readers, I hope you will enjoy this tasty recipe.