1 tbsp black rice vinegar (recommended: Chinkiang) or balsamic vinegar
Pinch freshly cracked white pepper
1 tbsp cornflour, blended with 2 tbsp cold water
200g cooked egg noodles
2 small handfuls bean sprouts
8 fresh baby corn, sliced (can be found at specialty Asian markets)
1 spring onion, sliced
100g cooked chicken, shredded
1 tbsp dark soy sauce
1 (225g) can bamboo shoots, drained and rinsed
700ml vegetable stock, hot
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1 tbsp Shaohsing rice wine or dry sherry
1 red chilli, seeded and finely chopped
2 handfuls fresh shiitake mushrooms, sliced or 1 small handful dried Chinese mushrooms, reconstituted and sliced
1 (2cm) piece fresh ginger, peeled and thinly sliced
Notes: This is one of my favourite soups - 'Suan la tang' means 'sour hot soup'. Originating from the Sichuan province, this dish uses plenty of chillies and black rice vinegar for the 'sour'. You can vary the recipe to your taste and adjust the amount of chillies to your preference. You could also omit the chicken strips if you are vegetarian. I love this soup; it is earthy from the fragrant Chinese mushrooms and very warming on a cold winter's day. Forget instant noodles - this is a fast and healthier alternative.
1) For the soup base: heat a wok over high heat, add the oil, and stir-fry the ginger and mushrooms until softened. Add the chile, Shaohsing rice wine, hot vegetable stock, bamboo shoots, soy sauces, black rice vinegar and the white pepper. Bring the mixture to a boil, thicken with the cornstarch slurry and set aside over low heat.
2) For service: in some plastic pots, layer some of the cooked egg noodles with the raw bean sprouts, raw sliced baby corn, and spring onions. Top everything with the shredded chicken, and then spoon plenty of the soup base over the ingredients. Give the noodle pot or bowl a good stir, and serve immediately.