Sting Your Lips Lunch: Fast and Fabulous Chinese Soup
Periodically, I get into the Chinese cooking mode. It all began when I lived in California and learned how to cook skate by following instructions I got from shoppers staring into the case at the fish store on the Camino Real in Menlo Park.
Chinese cooking, ancient and complex, easy and hard, offers us a look back at a cuisine that has been sustainable for thousands of years when women squatted over a charcoal fire and did all their cooking on the ubiquitous wok.
I ran across this recipe for “Sting your Lips” Lunch and tried it yet again. Yes, I did make a trip to the big Chinese supermarket for fermented black beans and Szechuan peppercorns. But even if I’d had to rely on an ordinary supermarket, I could have substituted Black Bean Sauce.
You can adjust the heat in this dish by tuning the chili bean sauce and the hot sauce up or down. You won’t need any salt in the dish. But be bold with the hot sauce. Don’t stop until it stings your lips. Ahhh. Now you’ve got it.
And you can serve it over brown rice if you wish, but I just like it plain, right out of the pot. Yum.
Sting Your Lips Lunch
Makes 4 to 6 servings
2 tablespoons organic canola oil
6 large cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon fermented black beans
½ pound ground heritage pork (or pork sausage)
2 tablespoons chili bean sauce (or to taste)
2 tablespoons Chinese cooking wine
1 cup water
2 cups chicken stock
2 teaspoons soy sauce
2 teaspoons sesame oil
1 teaspoon crushed Szechuan pepper (or to taste)
1 lb. firm tofu, rinsed and cut into large chunks
4 stalks scallions cut on the diagonal into 1-inch pieces
1 teaspoon hot sauce (or to taste)
1 tablespoon cornstarch
2 tablespoons water
cooked brown rice
Heat oil in a large skillet or wok. Fry garlic and fermented black beans about 30 seconds, or until they begin to give off that lovely aroma.
Add pork and stir fry until the meat is no longer pink. Add chili bean sauce and stir to mix. Then add wine, soy and sesame oil. Cook until most of the water has evaporated.
Add chicken stock and water and bring to a gentle boil. Add tofu and spring onions.
Cook about 10 minutes. Taste and adjust seasonings with additional hot sauce. Stir together cornstarch and water and add to the pot. Stir to thicken.
Serve at once over a bed of brown rice or just plain. Yum.