Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Hot and Sour Catfish

Hot and Sour Catfish
For dinner, Ann wanted me to reprise the fried catfish dish with mapo dofu topping that I did this time last year. But I was in a soup mood, so I split the difference. This didn't stop Ann from giving me grief about not cooking exactly what she wanted, for doing some riff, but that's what Eds do: they take inspiration from whatever source and then map that inspiration onto something deliciously edible (and I don't think that judging from her happy noises that she really has any grounds to complain about the results). ;)

Earlier in the afternoon, I simmered for a couple of hours a couple pounds of chicken necks in chicken stock with garlic, ginger, and cilantro stems. Meanwhile, I soaked a handful of dried daylily buds and tree ear mushrooms in hot water.

Just before dinner, I strained the chicken stock and added the rehydrated lily flowers and mushrooms, broth and all, to the stock. To this, I added soy sauce and vinegar in equal parts to the soup until I got just the right amount of salt and sour. I added three parts rice vinegar to one part black vinegar. Into the soup went finely diced tofu, chopped Shanghai bok choy, and spicy preserved mustard stems. I didn't add any more spice to the soup, but if I had, the classic hot and sour soup spice is ground white pepper (which I did add to Ann's soup because she wanted more spice). I did not add cornstarch to the soup: I am not a fan of the gloppy consistency. If that's your speed, go for it.

While finishing up the soup stock, I roasted a whole sheet tray of catfish in the oven (to have something to eat for dinner late night when I get home later this week) and then placed a small filet in the bottom of a soup bowl. Over this went a couple ladles of soup and on top, fresh cilantro and green onions. And presto! Hot and sour catfish.

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