If you have good stock, you’ve got the keys to the Kingdom sat in your fridge or freezer.
The stock I usually make is based on a recipe I found in the first Chinese cookbook I bought way back in the 90s. Not only do I use this stock in Chinese dishes, I also use it in other types and styles of cooking, too. Works like a charm.
Apart from plenty of water, all I use is the bones, meat, and skin left over from a roast chicken, the bones and other leftover bits from pork spare ribs, sliced ginger, garlic, roughly chopped spring onions (scallions), and a few Sichuan peppercorns. Simmer and skim. Drain. Job done.
The problem is, you sometimes unfortunately find yourself stockless just when you really need some, such as when you plan to make soup, for instance.
This, then, is my “quick and dirty” method of preparing a Chinese soup base if I find myself agonisingly bereft of stock. It has to be noted that the saving grace of this method is the flavour that comes from the inclusion of the Sichuan peppercorns and the Tianjin preserved vegetable, so skipeth them ye not.
Chinese Egg and Mushroom Soup
- 4 eggs, beaten
- 1 tsp, 5 spice powder
- 2 tsp, Tianjin preserved vegetable
- 3 tbsp Sichuan peppercorns, lightly crushed
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 1 tsp onion powder
- ½ tsp chilli powder
- 1 tbsp fish sauce – see Notes
- 2 handfuls of shiitake mushrooms
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Coconut oil
- Sliced spring onion (scallion) greens and chopped chives
- Sesame seed oil
- Half-fill a 2 Litre sized saucepan with cold water. Add the 5 spice powder, garlic powder, onion powder, chilli powder, and fish sauce. Stir well to combine and remove any small lumps. Add the Tianjin preserved vegetable and the Sichuan peppercorns, and stir again. Bring up to a boil, then drop down to a low simmer. Continue to simmer, covered, for about 30 minutes or so.
- In the meantime, prepare the mushrooms. Wipe or brush them clean, then trim the woody ends of the stalks. Set aside.
- Prepare the eggs. Season the beaten eggs to taste with salt and black pepper. Heat about 2 tbsp of coconut oil in a large non-stick frying pan over medium heat. Add the eggs, and cook as you would for an omelette, allowing uncooked egg from the top side to reach the hot surface of the pan to cook. Unlike as you would with an omelette, don’t flip the eggs at any time. Continue to cook until the eggs are just ready, i.e. when they have set and there is no longer any runny mixture left. Tip the omelette onto a plate or chopping board to cool. Set aside.
- After the stock has cooked for a good half hour or so, add the prepared mushrooms. Allow them to simmer for about 3 minutes or so.
- Slice the omelette thinly. Add the sliced omelette to the soup, simmering for a minute or so at most. Add more boiling water if you feel that you need more soup base.
- Ladle out the soup into bowls. Garnish with sliced spring onion (scallion) greens and chopped chives, and a drizzle of sesame seed oil. Serve.
To make the dish truly Paleo, get hold of fish sauce that contains fish, water, and salt. You’re probably best looking in an Asian store for genuine Thai fish sauce, although if you’re in Britain Tesco’s own fish sauce fits the bill. I currently use Thanh Ha Phu Quoc.