Adding bit of heat, tartness to warm up cold autumn evenings

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Hot and sour soup with mushrooms and deep-fried tofu

Autumn is a season when one with a good appetite can enjoy fresh ingredients until the heart’s content. As such, food researcher Wu Wen shared a recipe for hot and sour soup with mushrooms and deep-fried tofu. The blend of sourness and spice is perfect for warming you up as the days grow colder.

Wu has a reason for recommending hot and sour soup, a concept born in China.

“The sourness is refreshing when you’re tired, and the black pepper helps heat the body up,” she said. The high-in-fiber mushrooms also help clean your system out allowing your body to hit the reset button.

Wu chose three types of mushrooms: shimeji, enoki and nameko.

“The mushrooms work well in the soup if they’re finely chopped,” Wu said.

“Each mushroom has its own umami flavor, so I highly recommend using at least two varieties.”

Mushrooms should be put in room-temperature water to become the source of dashi broth as the dish simmers. Nameko also plays the role of thickening the soup.

Deep-fried tofu accompanies the mushrooms. Although hot and sour soup usually includes tofu, oil from the deep-fried variety helps bring out the richness and savory flavor.

“Deep-fried tofu makes it possible to simplify the dish’s seasoning,” Wu said.

For the seasoning, apart from the sour black vinegar and black pepper bringing a tinge of spiciness, add a splash of soy sauce. Then, add sesame oil for flavor and lastly garnish with refreshing parsley.

I tried a spoonful of the thick soup. I could taste the mushrooms’ umami and richness of the deep-fried tofu amid a gentle sourness. The boiled mushrooms and plump tofu created a mild and pleasant texture. While I was distracted by the strong savory flavor that overflowed from the bowl, the spiciness of the black pepper struck my senses, and I felt a gentle warmth flow through me as I continued to enjoy the dish. The perfect recipe for a long autumn night.

Hot and sour soup

Ingredients (serves 2 to 3)

100 grams shimeji mushrooms

100 grams enoki mushrooms

100 grams nameko mushrooms

1 block deep-fried tofu

3 tbsp black vinegar

1 tbsp soy sauce

½ tsp black pepper

¼ tsp coarse salt

½ tbsp sesame oil

Pinch of parsley


1. Remove the hard tips of the shimeji and enoki mushrooms. Separate the shimeji and cut the enoki in half.

2. Cut the deep-fried tofu into 1-centimeter slices.

3. Place the sliced mushrooms and the nameko into a large pot. Add 600 milliliters of water and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 5 minutes with a lid on.

4. Add the deep-fried tofu and simmer for another 5 minutes.

5. Add the black vinegar, soy sauce, black pepper, coarse salt and sesame oil.

6. Serve with a pinch of parsley on top.

Parsley sauce

Wu explained how to make her favorite salty parsley sauce. Mince about 5 tablespoons of parsley and mix with 1 teaspoon of coarse salt. Add 1½ tablespoons of sesame oil and mix well.

Although called a sauce, there’s hardly any moisture and it goes well mixed with pickled dried plums and rice, or on top of fried eggs.

“Parsley is quite nutritious. Don’t forget to use it all,” Wu said.