Spinach, Shrimp, and Bean Thread Noodle Soup
Spinach in China is called bor chai, or “waving vegetable,” which describes its mature leaves ruffled by the wind. Here, it is combined with shrimp and bean thread noodles, which are fashioned from mung bean starch into long, hard strands that are appreciated for their smoothness after cooking.
1 package (2 ounces) bean thread noodles
8 ounces (about 20) large shrimp (40 count per pound)
2 quarts water
1 tablespoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 pound spinach leaves
5 cups chicken stock or broth made with chicken flavored broth powder
1-inch slice ginger, peeled and lightly smashed
3 cloves garlic, lightly smashed
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/4 cup garlic oil
In a bowl, soak the bean threads in hot water to cover for 10 minutes, or until they soften. Drain well, cut into 4-inch lengths, and reserve.
Clean the shrimp and drain well over a bowl. Reserve.
To water blanch the spinach, in a pot, bring the water to a boil over high heat. Add the salt and baking soda. When the water returns to a boil, add the spinach and cook for 5 seconds, or until the leaves turn bright green. Immediately turn off the heat. Run cold water into the pot, then drain off the water. Run cold water into the pot again, drain well, and reserve the spinach.
In a large pot, place the stock, ginger, garlic, and salt and bring to a boil over high heat. Add the spinach, stir well, and allow the stock to return to a boil. Add the garlic oil and stir to mix well. Add the reserved shrimp, stir in, and allow the soup to return to a boil. Add the bean threads, stir to mix well, and allow the soup to return to a boil once again. At this point, the shrimp will have curled and turned pink, indicating they are cooked.
Turn off the heat, transfer the soup to a heated tureen, and serve.