Yesterday, March 26th was an important day. Apart from the fact that it was a dear friend's birthday, March 26th also marked the day when I had a first taste of demonstrating my cooking skills LIVE! Imagine that!! I showed a group of 16 ladies in my Siglap community in Singapore as part of my grassroots reach out - how to prepare this easy delicious nourishing Chinese Vegan Hot & Sour Soup. A bit hesitant and a tad nervous at first - because there I was, an Indian showing how to prepare a Chinese dish to a group of mostly Chinese ladies!! What in the world would they not know which I would??
Truth be told, I wasn't even planning to demonstrate this month's cooking class. These cooking demos are conducted during the last Sat of every month and we are always are on the lookout for demonstrators or culinary experts to show us how to cook a particular cuisine every month. Last month, we had a lady, Nora, who showed us how to make Choc Almond Slices under Baking theme. This month's theme was Chinese cooking. Devoid of instructors, Alice my fellow committee member, volunteered to conduct this month's class. I was actually 'sucked' in to fill in the extra time because her dishes would take a very short time.
Since we are on this page, can I add something about Alice? Alice is a born orator and her love for cooking was so evident during yesterday's cooking class. She was 'alive' with her chatty description of all the ingredients and engaged the participants very well. I am having a kind of writer's block here because I just can't come up with the right words to describe her demo style. All in all, she was a blast!!
But I must say, me being roped in was a blessing in disguise. I had an exhilarating experience! My nerves calmed down after the first few mins and soon I was giving them tips to make it to their preference. Everyone liked the soup and one exclaimed it was so easy to prepare and yet so tasty!! It was whole new experience for me. I was quite high on endorphins late into the night :)
1/2 (half) tbsp. canola oil
4 dried shitake mushrooms
12 dried tiger lily buds
2 cups of hot water
2 cups of room temperature water
½ a block of firm tofu, cut into thin strips
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 chilli padi (bird's eye chilli), sliced (or more if you prefer spicier)
1 and 1/2 tsp mushroom seasoning
2 tbsp rice vinegar
1 tbsp light soy sauce
1 tin braised peanuts, drained
2 tbsp cornstarch mixed with 3 tbsp water
1/3 cup spring onions, chopped
Extra sliced chilli padi for garnish
1 tsp sesame oil
Wash the shitake mushrooms and tiger lily buds and then soak in 2 cups of hot water for 30 mins.
After 30 mins, cut the stems off the shitake mushrooms and discard. Slice the caps thinly. Cut the tiger lily buds in half. Set both aside. Strain and reserve the soaking liquid.
Heat the canola oil in a soup pot and fry the minced garlic and sliced chilli padi till fragrant.
Then add the mushroom seasoning and stir for a minute.
Then add in the reserved soaking liquid, 2 cups of water, rice vinegar and light soy sauce.
Let it come to a boil and then add in the sliced shitake mushrooms, tiger lily buds, braised peanuts and tofu strips.
Let the whole soup boil well for another 2-3 mins.
Then pour in the cornstarch mixture and then the soup will thicken.
Just before serving, garnish with chopped spring onions, sliced chilli padis and swirl in the sesame oil.
You can add in a variety of other ingredients – silken tofu instead of firm tofu, bamboo shoots, wood ear mushrooms etc and if you prefer a non-vegan soup, you can swirl in 1 beaten egg at the end. Or you can even substitute the 4 cups of water with chicken stock if you would rather opt for a non vegetarian version.