Helen, Janet and I gave up our day jobs as a lawyer, engineer and financier to open Sweet Mandarin in 2004 to the horror of our parents who protested that restaurants were hard graft and economically precarious. Nonetheless, our passion to serve Chinese food our way was too strong to resist and we bought a derelict piece of land and built Sweet Mandarin in four weeks including the kitchen, bar, the ceiling, the glass frontage, the team and the menu. The first item is Hot and Sour soup and that is what caught the attention of John who walked through the door on day one to order this dish. He is now a dear friend and we owe him a huge vote of thanks for his supporting in helping us getting our gluten-free sauces off the ground and into Sainsbury’s but recently we reminisced about that rainy day in November 2004 and he said that our friendship was cemented when I served him this hot and sour soup. ‘It’s the ultimate test of a good Chinese restaurant. Your hot and sour soup was so good that I had to get to know you, chef !’ It’s also a firm favourite with my sister Janet who loves, loves, loves my Hot and Sour soup! It certainly warms you up and the spices are wonderfully aromatic and enhance the flavour of the soup. Once you’ve perfected the perfected the balance of those spicy and sour flavours, you’ll sip to your heart’s content.
Prep time 10 minutes
Cook time 10 minutes
600ml chicken stock
100g cooked meat, such as pork, chicken, ham or char siu
100g small prawns
50g bamboo shoots
50g carrot strips
50g tofu, cut into strips
1 teaspoon chillibean sauce
1 tablespoon white vinegar
100ml Sweet Mandarin sweet and sour sauce
½ teaspoon salt
¾ teaspoon sugar
1 portion of potato starch mixture (1 tablespoon potato starch mixed with 4 tablespoons water)
1 drop of sesame oil
1 small egg, beaten
Add the stock to a wok or saucepan and bring to the boil. Add the cooked meat, prawns and vegetables and tofu and cook, stirring often, for 3–4 minutes. Drop in a generous teaspoon of chillibean paste and pour in the vinegar and sweet and sour sauce. Season with the salt and sugar, stir well and cook for about 5 minutes until boiling.
Pour in the potato starch mixture when the soup is boiling and stir immediately. Potato starch only reacts with boiling liquids. You need to stir the potato starch mix in vigorously. If you don’t stir the soup will become gloopy in the centre and watery on the edge of the wok
Remove from the heat and slowly swirl in 2 tablespoons of beaten egg so the egg drop cooks in the soup. Use a fork or the stirrer to mix the egg into strands to create the egg drop effect which is essentially thin swirls of egg. Return to the heat for 30 seconds to cook through the egg.
Add in a little drop of sesame oil and mix. Serve and enjoy!
To book a table at Sweet Mandarin email firstname.lastname@example.org . Our opening times are Tuesday – Sunday 5-10pm.
Sweet Mandarin is a Chinese Restaurant in Manchester which serves delicious Chinese cuisine and exotic cocktails. We make our own sweet chilli sauce, bbq sauce, sweet & sour sauce which you can buy from Sainsbury’s, Tesco, Ocado, Booths, Wing Yip and Chi Yip. Sweet Mandarin Chinese Restaurant and Cookery Schoolcan cater for the gluten free, dairy free diners. We are a short 15 minute walk from the Manchester Arena. We are not based in Chinatown, but based in the trendy Northern Quarter near the Arndale Centre, Selfridges, Harvey Nichols, Debenhams and Primark. The nearest hotels to us are the Crowne Plaza, Holiday Inn Express, Premier Apartments, Blue Rainbow Aparthotels, Light Hotel and Hatters Hostel.