Hot and Sour Prawn Soup

This version of hot and sour soup is perfect for a rainy winter day. Any leftover soup could be frozen.

Preparation time: 30 minutes

Cooking time: About 35 minutes

Makes: Four servings

16 medium or large shell-on wild prawns

5 cups chicken, fish or vegetable stock, plus more if needed

1 cup water

1/4 cup rice vinegar

1/4 cup soy sauce

1 Tbsp hot Asian-style chili sauce, such as Sriracha, or to taste

2 tsp honey

1 Tbsp chopped fresh ginger

1 large garlic clove, minced

1/3 cup grated carrot

8 small to medium fresh shitake mushrooms, tough stems removed, caps sliced

1 (8 oz./227 gram) can sliced bamboo shoots, drained well and cut into thin strips

150 to 175 grams extra-firm tofu, cut into 1/2-inch wide, 1 1/2-inch long strips

2 Tbsp corn starch mixed with 3 Tbsp cold water

2 green onions, thinly sliced

2 medium baby bok choy, stems trimmed, separated into single stem pieces, and then thickly sliced

• sliced fresh red chilies, to taste (optional)

• fresh cilantro leaves, to taste (optional)

 

To peel and devein each prawn, hold the tip of the tail in one hand. Slip the thumb of your other hand under the shell between its legs. Pull off the shell and, if desired, leave the very tip of the tail in place.

With a small paring knife, make a lengthwise slit along the back of the prawn. Now pull out, or rinse out with cold water, the dark vein. Pat each prawn dry, set on a plate and refrigerate until needed.

Place the prawn shells, 5 cups stock and 1 cup water in a medium pot set over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat until the liquid gently simmers (small bubbles should just break on the surface). Simmer prawn shells 20 minutes, then strain stock into a clean medium pot.

Return stock to a simmer, then add the prawns to the pot. Simmer prawns two to three minutes, until just cooked through. Lift prawns out of the pot with a slotted spoon and set them on a clean plate.

Add the vinegar, soy sauce, chili sauce, honey, ginger, garlic, carrot, mushrooms, bamboo shoots and tofu to the stock and return to a gentle simmer. Simmer for five minutes. Stir in the cornstarch mixture and simmer one minute more.

Add the cooked prawns, bok choy and green onions to the soup and heat through two minutes. Add a bit more stock to the soup if you find it too thick. Garnish the top of the soup, if desired, with a few sliced fresh red chilies and cilantro leaves.