• 8 small dried or fresh cloud ear mushrooms
• 16 dried tiger lilies
• 8 cups vegetable stock
• 2 tbsp Chinese black vinegar
• 1 tbsp shaoxing wine
• 1 tbsp Chinese light soy sauce
• 2 tbsp Chinese dark soy sauce
• 1 to 2 tsp granulated sugar
• 1 tsp sesame oil
• 1 tsp chilli oil
• 3 dried whole red chillies
• 1 small bamboo shoot, quartered lengthwise and julienned
• 1 oz fresh ginger, peeled, thinly slices and julienned
• Freshly ground white or black pepper
• 8 ounces firm tofu, sliced and cut into ¼ inch thick sticks
• 1 to 2 tbsp tapioca starch or cornstarch
• 2 scallions, root and dark green ends trimmed, and 6 inch stalks thinly sliced into rounds
1. Put the cloud ears (if dried) and lilies in separate bowls with hot water to cover, then set a plate over each bowl to prevent steam from escaping. Let stand until they rehydrate and soften, about 30 minutes.
2. Squeeze the cloud ears and lilies between the palms of your hands to get rid of the excess water. Using a paring knife, remove any hard stems, and quarter the cloud ears. Cut off the very hard tip of each lily stem end, then tie them in knots.
3. Bring the stock to a boil in a pot over high heat. Reduce the heat to medium low and add the vinegar, wine, light and dark soy sauces, sugar, sesame oil, chili oil, chilies, bamboo shoots, ginger, cloud ears, and lily stems. Season with salt and pepper and simmer until heated through, about 15 minutes.
4. Add the tofu. Dilute the tapioca starch with 1 to 2 tbsp water and stir it into the soup until thickened slightly, 1 to 2 minutes.
To serve, ladle the soup in individual bowls and garnish with scallions.