Hot And Sour Tofu Soup

Course : Chinese
Serves: 6
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8 medium dry shiitake mushrooms -- (about 3/4 oz.
1 tablespoon salad oil
1 clove garlic -- minced or
1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
1 1/2 quarts regular-strength chicken -- broth
1 pound soft or regular tofu -- rinsed, diced, drained
3 tablespoons rice vinegar or cider -- vinegar
1 1/2 tablespoons soy sauce
3 tablespoons cornstarch
3/4 teaspoon white pepper -- up to 1
1/2 teaspoon chili oil -- (optional), up to 1
4 medium green onions -- (ends, trimmed), -- thinly sliced
1 recipe crisp noodles -- (recipe, follows)
1 recipe crisp-creamy peas -- (recipe, follows)

Preparation / Directions:

Soak mushrooms in hot water to cover until soft, about 20 minutes. Drain; cut off tough stems and discard. Cut caps into thin strips; set aside. Pour oil into a 4- to 5-quart pan. Place over medium heat and add garlic and ginger; stir until garlic is light gold. Add broth and mushrooms; bring to a boil on high heat. Add tofu; cover and simmer until tofu is hot, 3 to 5 minutes. Mix rice vinegar, soy sauce, and cornstarch until smooth; stir into soup. Cook, stirring, until soup boils. Add white pepper and chili oil to taste. Stir in onions. Pour into a tureen. offer noodles and peas to add to taste. CRISP NOODLES: Pour about 1 inch salad oil into a 2 1/2- to 3-quart pan. Heat oil to 350F. Add a handful of fresh Chinese noodles or fresh taglierini (you'll need 3 oz. total) to oil; fry, turning, until crisp and golden, about 1 minute. Lift out; drain on paper towels. Repeat to fry remaining noodles. Serve, or let cool and store airtight for up to 5 days. Makes 3 cups. Or omit this step and use 1 can (5 oz.) chow mein noodles. CRISP-CREAMY PEAS: Rinse and drain 1 can (16 oz.) black-eyed peas. Spread out on a double layer of paper towels and pat dry. Place beans in a 10- by 15- inch baking pan. Add 1 tablespoon salad oil and mix to coat beans. Bake in a 400F oven until beans are lightly browned and crisp on outside, about 15 minutes; stir occasionally. Serve hot or warm. Makes 1 cup. Sunset Magazine, 4/89

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