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Bamboo Shoot And Asparagus Soup

This soup is traditionally served at the end of a Chinese meal.

ingredients

3 oz (90 g) tinned bamboo shoots, drained
2 oz (50 g) dried bamboo shoots
1 lb (500 g) fresh, tender asparagus spears
2 pints (1.2 litres) chicken stock
1 lemon
1 thin piece fresh ginger, peeled
7 oz (200 g) tofu
1 1/2 tbsp sunflower oil
2 tbsp Chinese rice wine, dry sherry or dry vermouth
1 tsp sesame oil
salt and pepper

method

1. Soak the dried bamboo shoots in plenty of very hot water for 30 minutes.

2. While they are soaking, heat the chicken stock.

3. Trim and prepare the asparagus, washing very thoroughly: only the tender, upper halves of the spears are used for this recipe; slice them diagonally into 1 1/4 in (3 cm) lengths and place in a bowl of cold water mixed with the lemon juice.

4. Cut the tinned bamboo shoots into 1/4 in (7 mm) thick slices, unless they are already sliced and then cut these into pieces approximately the same size as the pieces of asparagus.

5. Chop the fresh ginger very finely.

6. Drain and squeeze the soaked, dried bamboo shoots; pat-dry in kitchen paper. Cut into julienne strips. Cut the tofu into small cubes.

7. Heat the sunflower oil in a large, heavy-bottomed saucepan and fry the ginger and strips of bamboo shoots briefly, until the ginger releases its aroma, then stir in the pieces of tinned bamboo shoots and fry gently for a few seconds.

8. Add the chicken stock. Bring to the boil, reduce the heat, cover and simmer gently for 30 minutes.

9. Add the asparagus and the tofu and simmer for a further 10 minutes, until the asparagus is tender but still a little crisp.

10. Draw aside from the heat, add the rice wine or substitute and the sesame oil; season to taste with salt and pepper and serve very hot.

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