Diana Kuan's egg drop soup in The Chinese Takeout Cookbook is a simple affair. Her broth is flavored with just a bit of ginger, rice wine, white pepper, and sugar; bolstered with meaty dried shiitakes; and thickened (just barely) with a cornstarch slurry. The broth's simplicity allows the just-set sunny egg to shine. Turning off the heat while stirring in the egg keeps its texture tender and light.
Why I picked this recipe: There's something magical about that moment when you stir beaten egg into hot soup.
What worked: Simple and well-balanced, this is a shining example of the form.
What didn't: No problems here.
Suggested tweaks: Kuan suggests adding additional meat and/or vegetables to the soup to bulk it up for a main course. I think a soup with spinach or bok choy and some cubes of tofu would be particularly nice (and good for spring).
Reprinted from The Chinese Takeout Cookbook: Quick and easy dishes to prepare at home by Diana Kuan. Copyright 2012. Published by Ballantine Booka, an imprint of Random House. All rights reserved. Available wherever books are sold.
- 6 dried shiitake mushrooms
- 6 cups chicken stock or vegetable stock
- 1 teaspoon Chinese rice wine or dry sherry
- 1/2 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon ground white pepper
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch, dissolved in 3 tablespoons water
- 1 large egg
- 1 scallion, green part only, thinly sliced
Soak the shiitake mushrooms in warm water for 15 to 20 minutes. Drain and squeeze out the excess water, discard the stems, and thinly slice the mushroom caps.
Combine the mushrooms, chicken stock, rice wine, and ginger in a medium pot and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer and stir in the sugar, salt, and white pepper.
Add the cornstarch mixture to the simmering soup and stir until the soup has slightly thickened—enough to coat the back of a spoon.
In a small bowl, whisk the egg lightly with a fork. Slowly pour the egg into the soup in a steady stream while continuously stirring with a long spoon or chopstick. The egg should cook immediately and look like long yellowish-white strands. Turn off the heat after you see the white strands to prevent the egg from overcooking. Ladle the soup into individual bowls, sprinkle the scallions on top, and serve.