There are several names for this Western Chinese dish; “Chicken and Sweetcorn soup” is one. I’ve also heard some Americans refer to it as “Egg Drop Soup”. Myself, I don’t tend to have time to give it a name; I’m usually too busy dunking my head in the tureen and trying to absorb it through every hole in my face.
Takes all sorts.
This recipe is the perfect amount for me when I’m really hungry. You may want to share half of this with your insane wife from the West Indies that you keep locked in the attic. Or, if you’re not Mr Rochester, then you may want to invite a friend to dinner instead.
You will need:
1 chicken breast, thinly sliced and cooked
2 tbsp light soy sauce
90ml cold water
1 tbsp sesame oil
Salt and pepper
2 tbsp vegetable oil
2.5cm fresh ginger, grated
900ml chicken stock
1 tin sweet corn
1 egg, beaten (that sounds sinister, doesn’t it?)
1 sense of purpose, unsullied
1 something else to eat if/when this all goes horribly wrong
1 metric tonne prawn crackers
Place the sliced chicken into a bowl. Carelessly toss the soy sauce, cornflour, water, sesame oil, salt and pepper into the bowl and stir until boredom occurs.
Let the chicken soak up the strange mixture that you’re soaking it in for about ten minutes. Use this time productively: run down to Blackwell’s, buy a copy of “Bleak House” and BURN IT. Alternatively, find Hamish the Cat and cuddle him for the remainder of the ten minutes.
Once you return from your arson/cat fondling, heat the vegetable oil, add the ginger and stir-fry it for a few seconds.
Add the stock and the sweet corn, then reduce the heat to simmering point.
Add the magical chicken mixture to the other half of your eventual dinner, and then slowly bring the recipe to the boil. I recommend turning the dial of the stove up by one setting, reciting your favourite Shakespearean monologue, and then turning the dial up by one setting again. Continue until you reach the boiling point or run out of Shakespeare.
Splash a small amount of rice wine or sherry into the mix. Drink the rest of the bottle: this is essential.
You’ll know when you reach the boiling point, because the soup will start roaring at you like a vengeful dragon. Placate this monster that you have created by reducing the heat back to a gentle simmer.
Let the near-soup simmer for three minutes. During these three minutes, consider the possibility that you might have an Oedipus Complex. You may be surprised. I was.
Pour the beaten egg (You did remember the beaten egg, didn’t you? If not, you’ve ruined it) into the mixture. The egg will begin to coagulate immediately (coagulate is a real word. Look it up. It means “congeal”. Congeal is also a real word).
When you see the egg “coagulate”, it is of the utmost importance that you DO NOT PANIC. This is all part of the plan. Wait for ten seconds (just enough time to find God/lose your faith/wonder why you’re using a recipe written be someone who’s obviously deranged) and then stir calmly.
Whilst stirring, appreciate the simple beauty of an egg that is coagulating.
Transfer the soup to a bowl.
Transfer the soup to a spoon.
Transfer the soup to your face (aim for the largest hole that you find therein).
If you can stand the excitement, eat the prawn crackers as well.
Congratulations. You have achieved soup and the eating of the same. This is a proud day for mankind. Not because you’ve made soup, but feel free to take some of the credit. Tell that guy or girl that you like that you can make soup. In some cultures, this is a sign of great virility (eating soup in those cultures, however, is punishable by death).