To rehydrate dried whole mushrooms, place them in a bowl, add boiling water to cover and let soak for 30 minutes, until soft. For dried mushroom slices, reduce the soaking time to 15 to 20 minutes. Drain well. For extra mushroom flavor, reserve the soaking liquid and add it to the dish. Before using, strain the liquid through a sieve lined with cheesecloth or a coffee filter to remove any grit.
Accompany the soup with a shredded cabbage salad dressed with rice wine vinegar, sugar and a little oil.
1 oz. dried Chinese black mushrooms or dried
3 cups boiling water
2 Tbs. plus 1 tsp. white wine vinegar
1 Tbs. plus 1 tsp. soy sauce
1/2 tsp. Asian sesame oil
1 1/4 tsp. Asian chili oil
1/2 tsp. freshly ground pepper, plus more,
5 cups chicken stock
1/2 cup canned thinly sliced bamboo shoots,
rinsed and drained
1 boneless, skinless whole chicken breast,
about 1/2 lb., cut crosswise into thin bite-size
1/4 lb. firm tofu, drained and cut into 1/2-
2 Tbs. cornstarch
1/4 cup water
1 egg, well beaten
Soak the dried mushrooms in the boiling water for 30 minutes. Drain the mushrooms and slice them thinly. Set aside.
In a small bowl, stir together the vinegar, soy sauce, sesame oil, chili oil and the 1/2 tsp. pepper. Set aside.
In a saucepan over medium-high heat, bring the stock to a simmer. Add the mushrooms and bamboo shoots and cook until the stock is aromatic, about 3 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium and add the chicken and tofu. Cook until the chicken is just opaque throughout and the tofu is heated through, about 2 minutes. Add the reserved vinegar-soy mixture and bring to a simmer.
In a small bowl, combine the cornstarch and water and stir until the cornstarch is dissolved. Add to the soup and stir until the soup begins to thicken. Remove from the heat. Add the egg, whisking with a fork until little shreds of cooked egg form. Taste and adjust the seasonings with vinegar, pepper or soy sauce.
Ladle the soup into warmed bowls and serve immediately. Serves 4.
Some people think that itís holding on that makes one strong; sometimes itís letting go.