Karl’s Hot And Sour Soup

Adapted from an Epicurious recipe

I had a bit of leftover pork tenderloin—a bit too thin or uneven to barbecue well—so I thought I would add it to another dish. I already had a main dish and a vegetable dish, so I decided I would make soup. Although it is one of Jan’s favorites, I have never tried to make hot and sour soup.

Karl’s Hot And Sour Soup

Karl’s Hot And Sour Soup

While this soup is an American-Chinese restaurant staple, you will not find several of the ingredients in your standard supermarket. You will only find dark soy sauce, black fungus (cloud ears),  lily buds, and black vinegar in Asian specialty stores or on-line. However, this soup is delicious, easy to make, and well worth the extra effort.

Like many Chinese dishes, most of the effort is in the preparation. The marinating, re-hydrating, slicing and measuring takes some time. Everything must be ready and placed easy to hand before you start the soup. The actual cooking takes only a few minutes and there is no time to chop or measure anything at the last second.

Karl’s Hot And Sour Soup


4 oz. pork tenderloin
¾ tsp. Kosher salt, separate uses
2 tsp. dark soy sauce

6 Chinese dried black mushrooms (shitake)
¼ cup shredded dried black fungus
16 dried lily buds

2 Tbs. cornstarch
⅓ cup canned sliced bamboo shoots,

2 Tbs. black vinegar
2 Tbs. unseasoned rice vinegar
1 Tbs. light soy sauce*
1 Tbs. sugar
2 tsp. fresh ginger, grated

2 Tbs. peanut oil
32 oz. reduced sodium chicken broth
3 to 4 oz soft tofu
2 tsp. freshly ground white pepper
2 teaspoons Asian sesame oil, separate uses
2 large eggs

2 Tbs. green onions, thinly sliced


1. Cut the pork into ¼  x ¼ x 1 inch bars and sprinkle with the one quarter teaspoon of salt.

2. Toss the pork with dark soy sauce in a small sealable plastic bag and marinate in the refrigerator for 1-2 hours.

3. Cut the tough stems from the black mushrooms and soak them with the black fungus in 1 cup of boiling water for 30 minutes.

Tip: I do this is a 2 cup measuring cup and I place a second cup inside it to keep the fungus submerged.

Note: Black fungus is sold both whole and pre-shredded. If you get it whole you simply re-hydrate 2-4 pieces and then slice them, discarding any large tough bits.

4. Soak the lily buds in half a cup of warm water for 20 minutes.

Tip: I put the lily buds in the cup holding down the mushrooms, add water and set a third cup on top to hold the buds submerged.

5. Remove the buds, mushrooms and fungus from their soaking liquids.

6. Pour off ¼ cup of the mushroom liquid and stir in the cornstarch. Reserve for later.

Tip: Discard the gritty remainder of the liquids.

7. Shred the mushrooms and fungus (if necessary) and set them aside.

8. Trim off the tough tips of the lily buds.

Tip: This is a small knot on the end away from the bud.

9. Cut lily buds in half crosswise, then rip the pieces lengthwise into 2 or 3 shreds.

10. Stack 2-3 bamboo shoots and slice them into ⅛ inch shreds. Continue until you have a third of a cup.

Tip: Reserve any remaining bamboo from the can for another dish.

11. Boil the bamboo shoots for one minute in a small saucepan. Drain and reserve the bamboo.

Tip: This both par-cooks the bamboo and removes any bitter “tined” flavor.

12. In a small bowl, mix the vinegars, light soy sauce, sugar, ginger, and remaining ½ tsp. salt. Set the bowl aside.

Tip: I prefer to grate my ginger, but it would be more traditional to shred it like the bamboo shoots.

Note: I used the four tablespoon of vinegar called for in the recipe I was adapting. This produced a soup that was only slightly “sour.” Jan though it was fine, but the rest of my diners wanted more. An easy solution was to place the bottle of black vinegar on the table to be added to the diners’ taste.

13. Slice the tofu into ¼  x ¼ x 1 inch bars and set aside.

14. Measure out the white pepper and the sesame oil into separate small cups and set them aside.

15. Put the eggs into a small bowl and add about ½ teaspoon of the sesame oil. Scramble well and set them aside.

16. Slice the green onions and set them aside.

Note: At this point, you should have all of your soup ingredients laid out ready to hand. Once you start cooking there is no time for cutting or measuring.

17. About 10 minutes before dinner, add the peanut oil to a wok or soup pot and heat it until shimmering.

18. Add the pork and stir-fry it until just changes color, about 1 minute.

19. Add black mushrooms, tree ears, lily buds, and bamboo shoots and continue stir-frying for one more minute.

20. Stir in the chicken broth and bring the pot to a boil.

Tip: Scrape any fond from the bottom of the pot.

21. Add the tofu and vinegar mixture and bring the pot just to a boil, about 30 seconds.

Tip: Stir the vinegar mixture before you add it, in case the sugar has settled at the bottom.

22. Reduce heat to moderate and stir in the cornstarch mixture, white pepper, and the remaining sesame oil, simmer for 1-2 more minutes until the soup has thickened.

Tip: Stir the cornstarch mixture, because the cornstarch always settles to the bottom of the cup.

23. Drizzle the egg mixture into soup in a thin stream, while gently stirring the pot.

24. Garnish with the green onions before serving.


Filed under Chinese-American, Pork, Side Dishes, Soups

2 responses to “Karl’s Hot And Sour Soup

  1. Pingback: Karl’s Sichuan Barbecued Pork Tenderloin | Jabberwocky Stew

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