Friday, May 29, 2009

Sizzling Rice Soup

I loved this soup when I was a kid. Over the years it has completely and inexplicably disappeared from all but a few old-school NYC Chinese restaurant menus; but no matter, I've started making it at home. In fact, we've eaten it three times this week, in an effort to make up for lost time.

The loud sizzle is a special moment in my day. What can I say? I've always loved those little tableside flourishes. Plus, it's a kind of perfect duo: combining the guilty-pleasure-sensation of pop rocks, with the inarguable health benefits of chicken vegetable soup.

3-4 ounces frozen shrimp, thawed
2 tablespoon rice wine
2 teaspoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon sesame oil
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 large skinless, boneless chicken breast
4 cups chicken broth
1 cup chopped raw broccoli
½ can of sliced water chestnuts
¼ cup sliced scallions
handful of snow peas
4-6 rice cakes from 1 package Chinese rice cakes (or you can make your own, which I did the other day but would prefer to not ever have to do again in the future.)

In a bowl, mix together the shrimp, cornstarch, sherry and soy sauce and set aside. Poach the chicken breast in the chicken broth in a soup pot over medium heat. Bring to a boil and then immediately reduce the heat and allow it to simmer until the chicken is just barely cooked through. Remove the chicken breast and set aside too cool slightly.

Add the shrimp mixture, green onions, water chestnuts and broccoli to the pot over medium heat. Simmer for 3 minutes. While the shrimp is simmering, cut the reserved chicken breast into chunks and add the chicken back into the soup. Add the snow peas and adjust for seasoning.

Meanwhile, heat 3 tablespoons of oil in a frying pan. Brown the rice cakes in the oil very briefly on each side. They should be very hot. Remove the rice cakes from the oil with a slotted spoon, and blot on paper towels.

Add the rice cakes to the soup at the table. If both are hot enough, the soup will sizzle loudly.

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