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Country Style Vegetable Soup with Fermented Black Beans and Tofu


Serves 4, for dinner

The Soup

4 cups aromatic broth (see recipe below)
14 - 16 ounces firm tofu
1 tablespoon peanut oil, preferably the fragrant Chinese kind
1 small head napa cabbage – about 1 ¼ pound
2 small heads of bok choy (4 to 5 inches in length)
6 scallions, white and light green parts, about 2 inches in length, sliced lengthwise
1 - 2 tablespoons doenjang, or if you don't care whether this is vegan, 1 tablespoon high quality fish sauce (I highly recommend Red Boat.)
2 teaspoons brown sugar
1 tablespoon organic brown rice vinegar
2 tablespoons fermented (also called “salted”) black beans
Salt or soy sauce to taste (I use about 2 teaspoons of soy sauce, but be careful. This will vary with the saltiness of your fish sauce.)
6 ounces thin rice or bean vermicelli
1 tablespoon dark sesame oil
Handful of cilantro leaves
Chinese spicy chili oil, to taste (optional)

Fermented Black Bean Scented Vegetable Broth

¼ cup fermented black beans (also called “Salted Black Beans”), coarsely chopped
Dark green tops of 6 scallions, coarsely chopped
1” piece of fresh ginger, unpeeled and coarsely chopped
½ cup coarsely chopped cilantro stems
6 cloves of garlic, smashed (no need to peel them)

Put all of the ingredients into a heavy pot with 6 cups of water. Simmer for about 30 minutes, then let stand for at least another 30 minutes.
Strain the broth. You should have about 4 cups. Don’t worry if you have less; just make up the difference with a bit of filtered water. If you have much more than 4 cups, simmer it for a while longer to reduce it.



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