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The Best of Winter Soups: Szechuan Stew

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Who doesn't love Chinese food? According to statistics, the favorite "foreign" food of American's is Chinese food. Take this fact and combine it with the fact that soups and stews are among the favorite winter meals and what you have is a delicious way to spend a cold winter day.

You might look at some of the ingredients and say "what?" Have no fear, you can find everything at either a local Asian market or at your local supermarket in their Asian food section. I do recommend using only the firm variety of tofu (or you can leave it out) as the softer varieties may breakdown during the cooking process.

Ingredients needed to make Szechuan Stew (serves 4):

  • 2 pounds prawns, shelled
  • 1 pound extra firm tofu, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 4 green onions, cut in thirds
  • 1 tsp. grated ginger
  • 3 whole star anise
  • 3 strips orange zest
  • ¼ cup corn oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 Tbs. whole black peppercorns
  • ½ cup soy sauce
  • 1/3 cup rice wine
  • 2 Tbs. sweet bean paste
  • 1 Tbs. Chinese chili sauce
  • 2 tsp. sugar
  • 2 Tbs. cornstarch
  • 3 Tbs. water

Steps:

  1. In a medium saucepan combine the prawns, tofu, green onions, ginger, star anise and orange. Add just enough water to cover and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to a simmer. Remove the prawns and tofu after 10 minutes and cook the rest for 30 more minutes.
  2. In a small skillet over medium heat add the oil, garlic, peppercorns, soy sauce, rice wine, sweet bean paste, chili sauce and sugar and cook 3 minutes.
  3. Stir the sweet bean mixture into the soup, cover and cook 10 minutes.
  4. In a small bowl whisk together the cornstarch and water.
  5. Place the prawns and tofu into serving bowls.
  6. Whisk the cornstarch mixture into the soup until the creamy color disappears and it has thickened.
  7. Before serving remove and discard the star anise and orange zest.

The internationally bestselling cookbook from Chef Larry Edwards, "Edwardian Cooking: 80 Recipes Inspired by Downton Abbey's Elegant Meals," is now in it's third printing and available worldwide in both hard cover and e-book versions. The paperback version will be released March 4, 2014.

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