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THE FOOD THAT SHAPED ME

Ching He Huang

TV chef and food writer Ching He Huang grew up in Taiwan on her grandparents’ farm – here she shares her recipe for a tangy soup inspired by her mother’s home cooking

TV chef and food writer Ching He Huang shares a recipe from her childhood growing up in Taiwan

“One of the first things my mum taught me to cook was soup. We moved to the UK when I was 11; she often had to travel abroad and it was up to me to cook for my father and brother. So she showed me how to make the meals her mother made at home: simple, peasant-style food.

“It’s amazing how food can evoke such strong memories. This soup always transports me back to my early childhood in Taiwan, where my grandparents were farmers. They had an orangery, and grew bamboo shoots. I remember running around the farm when I was five and watching my grandmother cook. She would add pickled bamboo shoots from the farm to her hot and sour soup – it gave it this wonderful salty, brined flavour.

“Growing up in Taiwan with a Chinese family, it was always about big communal meals and showing your love through food. We shared a courtyard home with all my great aunts and uncles – every celebration or special occasion we would eat altogether.

“Making the soup when I was a teenager living in North London reminded me of my roots and identity. Today, it connects me to my mother: she can be in her kitchen in Taiwan, and I can be in my kitchen in London, but this soup makes me feel closer to her.”

For more recipes infused with Asian flavour, follow Ching on Instagram @chinghehuang or visit chinghehuang.com, and see her new cookbook Stir Crazy out in September (Kyle Books, £19.99).

The recipe

Serving suggestion

This is easy to dress up for dinner parties when served with a glass of chilled dry white wine

 

Spicy hot and sour soup

Serves 4

Ingredients

1 litre fresh vegetable stock
1 tbsp peeled and freshly grated ginger
2 red chillies, deseeded and finely chopped
1 tbsp Shaoxing wine (or mirin)
2 tbsp dark soy sauce
½ Chinese leaf (or pak choi), sliced down the middle, washed, separated into two-inch angled slices
1 x 220g tin bamboo shoots, drained
10g woodear mushrooms (or oyster mushrooms), pre-soaked for 20 mins, drained, shredded
250g firm tofu, cut into cubes
50g Sichuan preserved vegetables, sliced
2 tbsp light soy sauce
3 tbsp black rice vinegar or balsamic vinegar
1 tbsp chilli oil
Pinch of ground white pepper
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 tbsp cornflour mixed with 2 tbsp cold water
1 large spring onion, finely sliced
chopped coriander to garnish (optional)

Method
Pour the stock into a wok and bring to the boil. Add all the ingredients up to and including the Chinese leaf and simmer for five minutes. Then add the bamboo shoots and mushrooms.

Turn the heat down to medium and add the tofu, Sichuan vegetables, light soy sauce, vinegar, chilli oil and white pepper, and simmer for six minutes.

Stir in the beaten egg, then add the blended cornflour and stir to thicken the soup (add more if you like a thicker consistency).

Add the spring onion, garnish with the coriander, if you like, and serve immediately.

Serving suggestion

This is easy to dress up for dinner parties when served with a glass of chilled dry white wine

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