Hot and Sour soup (Suan La Tang) is a common dish popular in China, especially during cold winters. Although some believe that hot and sour soup belongs to either the Sichuan cuisine or Hunan cuisine, it is found and relished throughout the country.
There are two styles of hot and sour soup. One is Northern China style, which looks white or creamish. The other is Southern China style, which has a red tinge. The Northern Style Hot and Sour soup gets its spice from white pepper powder, whereas the Southern Style Hot and Sour soup gets its spice from hot bean sauce. The major difference between the two is that the Southern one has bean sauce in it, which increases the oil content of the soup.
There are several essential ingredients which highlight the flavour of a hot and sour soup. These include tofu, shitake mushroom, wood ear mushrooms, egg, spring onions and carrots or chilli peppers. This gives the soup its five colours. For shitake mushroom, either dried mushroom or fresh mushroom can be used. Dried mushroom usually gives a stronger taste while fresh one gives smooth taste.
Hot and sour soup can be vegetarian or made with meat. Stock, some chicken meat, ham sausage or seafood is a good combination for meat lovers.
Relish this hearty and warming soup when travelling China and enjoy the regional differences.
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