Isa Hot and Sour Soup with Shrooms!

I can’t recall where I saw this video, but I saw this video that was studying whether women or men are smarter. My initial reaction to this was, “Well this seems like trouble. I don’t know how I feel about this.”

Thankfully, it ended up being an entertaining, light-hearted show.The final analysis was that women and men are equally intelligent, but they excel in certain areas and struggle in the opposite areas, thus resulting into an evening out.

Fair and balanced, I say, and it does seem to make sense.

Anyway, the experiment that resonated with me the most was one where a couple had to race each other doing certain tasks. So, they gave them both a list of activities. The men quickly rushed into doing the tasks on the list, while the women quietly read the list to theirself first. Turns out the very last ‘task’ on the list was to sign the list noting that you had read all the activities and to not do any of the other tasks.

My point in mentioning this, is that I make this same mistake with my cookbooks. I forget to read the details and just go straight to the cooking. I feel like I have the worst qualities of each sex. Emotional and sensitive, as well as not looking at details. The study caused me to feel insecure about my level of intelligence. I guess I’m just an idiot then.

That’s the beauty about life though. Intelligent people know they can learn to change their habits and by doing so, not only improve their well-being, but their level of intelligence as well. At least that’s what I’m telling myself and I’m hoping is true, because otherwise I’ll become depressed. Please let me live in ignorant bliss if you find this to be false.

What did I do with this recipe? I’m sure you’re wondering. Well, the author of the cookbook, which is Isa from Isa Does It!, had this whole little blurb about where I could possibly find the mushrooms that I couldn’t find and provided the best substitute if they weren’t found. Since I didn’t read this blurb, I ended up buying a bunch of regular brown button mushrooms. This wasn’t the end of the world, but it does change the whole dynamic of the soup.

Hopefully, if you make this soup, you will be a typical woman and read all the details.

What you’ll need for this soup is 1 ounce of dried wood ear mushrooms (shiitake is the substitute if you have the same trouble I did), 2 cups of boiling water, 2 teaspoons of sesame oil, 2 cloves of garlic, 1 tablespoon of minced fresh ginger, 4 cups of vegetable broth, 1/4 cup of rice vinegar, 3 tablespoons of soy sauce, 2 teaspoons of sriracha, 2 teaspoons of granulated sugar, 1 8 oz can of bamboo shoots, 5 ounces of thinly sliced cabbage, 14 ounces of 1/4 diced tofu, 1/2 cup of water, 1 tablespoon of cornstarch, 4 ounces of small button mushrooms, 1 cup of chopped scallions, and optional chow mein noodles.

The first step is to boil the wood ear mushrooms, provided that you were able to find them. The author says you can find them in the international section of grocery stores, but I did not. I’m assuming if you get shiitake mushrooms, you don’t need to boil them, as they are not dry and hard like wood.

Anyway if you are eating wood, boil that for 30 minutes. Then drain and chop into small pieces.

The next step is to pre-heat your pot over low heat with the oil and then saute the garlic and ginger until lightly brown. Next, add the broth, wood ears, vinegar, soy sauce, sriracha, sugar, bamboo shoots, and cabbage. Bring all of this to a boil, add the tofu, and then simmer for 5 minutes.

While this is happening, mix the cornstarch with some water until it has dissolved. Add that to the soup, along with the regular mushrooms and cook for an additional 5 minutes.

After that, you just want to make sure the soup has thickened  a bit. Once it seems appropriately thickened you can then serve and garnish with scallions, sriracha, and chow mein.

I was disappointed with this soup admittedly. I think it would have been better with the right mushrooms though. My friend Megumi was over when I made this, so I gave her a bowl. She seemed to like it, but we both agreed it wasn’t as good as the soup I made for her last. That soup was a Tangier bean soup from my Moroccan cook book. It was delicious stuff and I do highly recommend that one!

This one, I’d like to make again someday with the proper ingredients.

IMG_1348

The soup of hot and sour

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