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How Do I Make ... ?
Chinese Mushroom Soup or Guo Tongei

One Chinese we regularly visit in the small town of Lah't Lau (Leiliu) in Shunde offers one of the most amazing soups I have ever been fortunate to taste. It is a tangy soup similar to Borsch with 5 or more types of added mushrooms and wafers of sour orange or grapefruit.

The restaurant would not give me the recipe unfortunately, so I have emulated and improved it for the western palate.

Recipe Source:

Image: Jonno on the streets of Foshan, China Jonno, China Expats, Foshan, China  
Websites:China Expats.com
Jonno is a keen chef for friends and family. He has cooked and interpolated many dishes over the years, and invented ones of his own: Most notably 'Splodge', which is vaguely based upon Italian cuisine  
 

Quick Tips:

1. You will need to plan ahead to cook this dish, but know it is really quick and easy to make.
Let's get started:-
Chinese Tangy Mushroom Soup

Ingredients:


• 1 tin Russian Borsch
• 5 types of assorted mushrooms
• 1 sharp orange sliced wafer thin
• Zest of half an orange
• Water for thinning
• Salt and pepper to taste

Mushrooms: (Our Chinese mushroom page relates)

Your choice of mushrooms is entirely up to you, and what is available that day in the wet market. We suggest the following:

1. Chinese stick mushrooms (Enoki or snowpuff mushrooms) - these are white and a thin strip about 3 or 4 inches long. They have a very small round crown, and usually come in bunches, which you should break apart a little.

2. Chinese egg mushrooms. These are a creamy gray colour and between 1 and 2 inches long. They look exactly like small eggs. Prepare these by chopping into halves or quarters.

3. Chinese fan mushrooms (Oyster). These are known in the west but I do not know their real name. They come in various sizes and are sold as blocks. They are notable for being fluted and look like a long thin flower petal. White ones are usually fresher. If you buy them in a clump, then break them down to individual florets.

4. Chinese brown mushrooms are know as Chinese Black Mushrooms or Shiitake. These are normally sold dried in plastic bags in supermarkets, and have a cross on the top. If you can find these fresh then they are a lot better. If not, then you should soak these for several hours at least, and overnight is preferred. If you do this, then save the water to use for thinning the soup. As long as these are not very wide, I would not cut them.

5. I like to use a traditional button mushroom as the final ingredient, although you can add whatever takes your fancy, and as many types of mushroom as you like. Standard or brown caps are good, and size is important re presentation. If I have small mushrooms, then I would simply wash them and add to the pot. If they are larger, then I would break off the stem, and probably cut the crown in two.
Variables:

Herbs and spices:
• I use salt and pepper for taste only, and freshly ground black pepper is great for adding a slightly hot tang. I use refined salt as it works better than rock salt. Add the salt as the very final ingredient, as I think salt fixes the final flavour of any dish it is used in.
• There is a Chinese long thin chewy root thing that has medicinal properties. You can add this, but it will need a long soak first to stop it being chewy.
You will also find at dried food stalls around the wet market something that looks like strips if birch. This is another medicinal preparation, and again should be soaked for an hour or so before adding to the soup.
• Parsley or Basil are great, but probably unobtainable in your location. You can use fresh Coriander leaves, but only add a little as these in China are generally very powerful and could overwhelm the delicate flavours of the dish.

Orange:
Whilst you can use sweet orange, I prefer one with a sharp taste. Once you have this recipe cracked, you could change this for Lime, or Grapefruit.

Tomatoes:
You have the option to add tomatoes to this dish which enhances the flavour. Either cube one standard size or add several cherry tomatoes half way through.
Image: Chinese straw mushrooms

Image: Chinese stick mushrooms - Enoki or Snowpuff Mushrooms

Image: Yellow Oyster Mushrooms

Image: Chinese straw mushrooms

Image: Chinese Dried Black Mushrooms

Image: Chinese Button Mushrooms
Method
1. Put the tinned soup in a pan and bring to a simmer. You will probably be using Campbell's Brand condensed soup, so add two of these tins to serve 4 people. Thin as recommended on the can with either boiled water or the juice from soaking the dried mushrooms or medicines.
2. Add the thinly sliced semi-sour orange. It should be wafer thin and almost see-through.
3. Add the mushrooms and leave to gently simmer for 10 minutes.
4. Add black pepper to taste
5. Check taste
6. Adjust as necessary and fix the flavour with a little salt and leave simmering for another 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
7. Serve in soup bowls or turn down heat to very low.

Alternative serving suggestion:
For the authentic Chinese presentation, then you should actually cook this in an earthenware Chinese soup vessel - available at specialist stores around the wet market. These are fine to be used on a gas ring, but be careful if using full heat at the beginning as these are designed for slow cooking only. Check temperature also, as the lid keeps heat in and this may overflow if not watched. Using this method cooking time would be nearer to 1-hour instead of 15 minutes.
This information is as supplied by ourselves, and ably supported by our friends and various internet portals.
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