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Once upon a time long long ago, I was the CD buyer for a wholesale record joint in Detroit. Yeah – for some reason the long-haired white guy who looked like a Motorhead roadie was put in charge of selling rap, soul, & house CDs to some of the greatest urban stores in Detroit. The place I worked shared the building with the East Coast distributor for Death Row Records. That would mean over the course of 1992 I moved a ton of Dr. Dre’s debut, The Chronic, and got the chance to meet Dre & Snoop Dogg. I honestly don’t think I’ve ever listened to The Chronic all the way through and really only know “Nuthin’ But A ‘G’ Thang.” I really don’t care for Gangsta Rap. It always seems a bit pandering to the lowest common denominator & base values. (Yes, I recognize the “oral history of the street” thing but I’m still not down.)
That said, I’ve always dug the laid-back style of Snoop Dogg. Through the years, he’s turned out some of my favorite dope-hop tracks. There’s an ease to his style I really enjoy even if I think some of his lyrics are questionable. His culinary team up with Martha Stewart has definitely cemented his place in my Rap Top 10. (On a side note, I once named a smoker at a BBQ joint “Snoop” because it caused the kitchen to fill with smoke reminiscent of what we guessed a party at Snoop’s would be like.)
“Drop It Like It’s Hot” is one of those Top 40 Rap tracks that for some strange reason I never associated with Snoop Dogg. I mean, come on, it’s clearly him, but for whatever reason, I never made the connection. When I mentioned to Cherie (of We Can Tour That fame) that I was making Hot & Sour soup, she suggested “Drop It Like It’s Hot & Sour” but I went the extra mile and crossed Egg Drop Soup with Hot & Sour Soup to cover all the bases.
If I’m getting delivery from a Chinese restaurant, I always order Hot & Sour soup. I never order Egg Drop soup. Hot & Sour soup is my baseline in determining a good or bad joint. However, every time I make Hot & Sour soup from scratch I always wonder WHY I ever order it? It’s cheaper at home. Sometimes faster than delivery. And you get to tweak the spice and sour.
You’ll find a plethora of Hot & Sour soup recipes listing ingredients likely only found in specialty stores. Granted, wood ear mushrooms and black rice vinegar will take this soup to another level, but they are usually not stocked in everyday groceries. They certainly are not in my local here in Bushwick. So I stick with the easily available and tweak where needed. A touch of Balsamic adds the sweetness regular rice wine vinegar lacks. I’m perfectly happy with simple Baby Bella and Shittake mushrooms. If you feel like getting fancy, swap the Bella for Porcini to get even more earthiness.
One thing that is vital: white pepper. Most groceries carry white peppercorns so grinding fresh is ideal. If no peppercorns, just get a bottle of ground white pepper. This is something you cannot substitute. Black pepper will not give the distinctive flavor and hotness of white pepper. I tend to go a little heavy on pepper as I like to get a solid lip tingle while eating this soup. Adjust as you see fit.
Honestly, if you skip infusing the store-bought vegetable broth with mushrooms and buy some sliced Shittake, this recipe comes together in far less time than getting delivery and I guarantee it’ll taste better.
EGG DROP IT LIKE IT’S HOT & SOUR SOUP
Hot & sour soup with Baby Bella & Shittake mushrooms, Napa cabbage, tofu, and egg ribbons
Makes about 2 quarts
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
2 scallion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoon ginger, minced
4-ounces Baby Bella mushrooms, sliced thin
1-quart vegetable stock
2 cups of water
3 tablespoons of rice wine vinegar
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
1 1/2 teaspoons white pepper
1 teaspoon Sriracha
1 teaspoon white sugar
1/2 teaspoon Aleppo pepper
5-ounces Shittake mushrooms
2 cups of napa cabbage, sliced thin
6-ounces firm tofu, cut into bite-sized cubes
2 tablespoons cornstarch + 2 tablespoons water
2 large egg, lightly beaten
Place oil in a heavy pot over medium heat. Add scallion, garlic, and ginger and saute until fragrant, about a minute. Add the Baby Bella mushrooms and saute until they soften and release some of their liquid, about 5 minutes. Add the vegetable stock and water, bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer 5 minutes.
Add the vinegar, soy sauce, sugar, Sriracha, and spices. Stir to combine thoroughly. Add the Shittake mushrooms and cabbage and simmer until the mushrooms and cabbage are tender.
Combine the cornstarch and water in a small bowl. Add the tofu and gently stir the soup in a circular motion while adding the cornstarch slurry. Continue cooking until soup has thickened.
Using the same circular stirring motion, slowly add the beaten eggs so that “ribbons” form. Once eggs are added, remove from heat.