My dad and I went to a little Vietnamese restaurant last week. I’d had food delivered from there, but I was excited to see an expanded menu in the brick-and-mortar shop. It was a cute little place, and the food was excellent. So excellent that I rushed home and mocked up their soup as best I could.
1 cup water
2 dried shiitake mushrooms
2 dried oyster mushrooms
1 slice red onion
1 TBLSP olive oil
1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup water or vegetable stock
1 ½ teaspoons cornstarch
1 TBLSP soy sauce
2/3 cup corn (fresh or frozen), cooked (steamed)
1/3 cup tofu, pressed and crumbled or cubed
1 green onion, sliced narrowly on the diagonal
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
- In 1 cup of water, soak the mushrooms (shiitake and oyster) for about 10 minutes. DON’T DISCARD THE SOAKING WATER!!!! Put the soaking water in your saucepan and destem and slice the softened mushrooms into bite-sized strips and set them aside.
- In a small frying pan, slowly soften the red onions in the olive oil on medium heat. When they’re translucent and soft, add in the balsamic vinegar and cook for another couple of minutes. Take this step slowly—if you hurry, the onions will steam off all their yummy flavor.
- In a small bowl, add the cornstarch to the ½ cup of water or stock, stirring well, until it’s about the consistency of milk. If you leave lumps, you’ll have lumps in your soup. No one wants that.
- In a small saucepan, heat the mushroom water and the soy sauce to boiling. Add the cornstarch slurry slowly to the boiling water and you’ll find it thickening. You don’t want it very thick, just a pale golden delicate soup.
- Add in the corn, tofu, green onion, mushrooms, and pepper, heating everything through. You’ll probably want to bring it back to a boil, and then call it finished. Pour into a serving bowl and top with the caramelized onion.