by Jennifer Sartell of Iron Oak Farm
For a long time I thought my future was going to take route in becoming a Japanese interpreter. I studied Japanese language for 6 years and decided to change majors after considering how all the traveling would effect my family life. And while I’ve forgotten much of the Kanji, Katakana and syllabus, there’s one thing that I will always love, and that is Asian food. Chinese, Japanese…I love it all!
The combination of exotic ingredients and the the intense concentration of flavors is something that takes your palette away from the mundane and is always a treat.
Asian cuisine is one of those areas of cooking that I was never brave enough to venture. There was a mystery to it for me…That was until my favorite restaurant took my favorite dish off the menu.
It was a soft shell crab dish with sliced vegetables, ginger and miso over a crisp wonton and cous cous. It was delicious! And I vowed to re-create the dish so I could once again enjoy it. I located an Asian market and started exploring different ingredients. I became familiar with miso, one of my favorite flavors and created quite a few tasty dishes. Unfortunately, I never quite replicated the soft shell crab dish…to my disappointment, as soft shell crab is non-existant in Michigan. Maybe I need to move to the coast? hmmm.
Even though I haven’t been able to re-create my soft shell crab dish, the experiment did get me more familiar with cooking Asian food at home…and not just a common stir fry which consisted of chicken, veggies, rice and some sort of bottled sauce.
One of my favorite parts of eating Asian food is the delicious appetizers. I love egg-rolls and I love egg drop soup. Whenever I have a cold or am feeling under the weather I crave a bowl of egg drop soup. There’s just something soothing about the broth and the delicate flavor of the eggs and green onions. It’s a great year round soup, not too heavy for summer/spring dinner accompaniment, but warm and soothing for a cool fall day. It’s super easy to make which is great because you can control the ingredients. I like to use our farm raised chicken broth and backyard eggs. I also add organic spinach (from our garden if in season) and the green onion tops from our sweet onion patch. It’s an interesting way to bring this exotic soup close to home. Maybe one day I might be able to throw away the take out menu!
The problem is that egg drop soup isn’t very substantial. When I’m finished with my cup, there’s still plenty of room for Sesame Chicken or Mongolian Beef. So to eat it as a meal, I wanted to come up with a way to bulk the soup up a bit, but at the same time, didn’t overwhelm the delicate flavor that is classically Egg Drop.
This version includes silky tofu, earthy shiitake mushrooms and spinach which makes the soup a bit more hearty and turns it from an appetizer to a meal.
Substantial Egg Drop Soup
4 cups chicken broth (or bone broth, click here for the recipe) Set one cup aside.
1 Tbsp cornstarch
3 eggs whisked
2 Tbsp soy sauce
1 Tbsp grated ginger
1 4oz package shiitake mushrooms
1 12 oz extra firm tofu cut into 1/2 inch cubes
1-2 cups fresh spinach
3 spring onions chopped
toasted sesame oil
In a medium pot bring 3 of the 4 cups of broth to a simmer.
Add ginger and soy sauce.
Add the cornstarch to the remaining cup of broth, whisk until diluted.
Add the whisked eggs to the cornstarch and give a gentle stir just to break up the eggs.
Drizzle the eggs and cornstarch mixture into the simmering broth. I like to use a liquid measuring cup with a narrow pour-spout. It creates nice delicate ribbons.
Add the mushrooms and tofu.
Heat a few minutes till warm through.
Add the spinach and cook just until wilted.
Serve with a sprinkling of green onions and a drizzle of toasted sesame oil.