Shanghai Egg Pouch Soup
125 g/4 oz bean thread vermicelli
6 dried shiitake mushrooms
half a Chinese cabbage (wong nga bak)
2 litres/4 pints/8 cups chicken stock
125 g/4 oz minced (ground) pork
1 spring onion (scallion), finely chopped
1/4 teaspoon finely grated fresh ginger
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cornflour (cornstarch)
pinch of salt
Soak the noodles in hot water for 20 minutes, then drain. Soak the mushrooms in hot water for 30 minutes, drain, discard the stems and cut caps into quarters. Wash the cabbage and cut it into thick slices.
To make the pouches: Combine the pork with spring onion, ginger, salt and cornflour; mix well. In a separate bowl, beat the eggs with 1 teaspoon of cold water and a pinch of salt.
Lightly oil a ladle and heat over a low gas flame. Pour in about 3 tablespoons of the beaten egg, swirl to give an even, thick coating of egg and pour excess egg back into the bowl. Put a teaspoon of the pork mixture on one side of the egg and fold the other side over, sealing the edge if necessary with a little of the uncooked egg. The pouches can be made in a heavy frying pan but the shape will not be as good. Place on a plate when made.
Cooking the soup: Heat the stock in a clay pot or flame-proof casserole, and season with salt if necessary. Add noodles, return to the boil and simmer for 5 minutes. Arrange the egg pouches in the pot and simmer for a further 5 minutes. In the centre place the sliced cabbage and the mushrooms, and give the soup a final simmering for 5 minutes.
Note: This dish can be prepared beforehand, to the stage where the noodles have been cooked in the soup. Have the egg pouches, cabbage and mushrooms ready in the refrigerator. About 20 minutes before serving, reheat the soup and continue with the recipe.
Recipe excerpted from Encyclopedia of Asian Food by Charmaine Solomon (Periplus Editions, 1998)