Hot and Sour in Chinese

Hot and Sour Soup

Hot and Sour Soup

When you feel bored, have a bowl of spicy hot and sour soup, and let it wake up your senses. Recipes abound on the Internet for this famous Chinese soup. To search for recipes or videos in Chinese, enter “酸辣汤 (suānlàtāng hot and sour soup)”. Basically, this is an egg-flower soup, or 蛋花汤 (dàn huā tāng), jazzed-up with soy sauce, vinegar, a copious amount of powdered pepper and a few other ingredients.

As the name suggests, the hot and sour soup tastes spicy hot and sour. The Chinese word for the pungent, spicy hot taste is (là), or 辛辣 (xīnlà). This is a characteristic of chili peppers, 辣椒 (làjiāo), and white or black powdered pepper 胡椒 (hújiāo). A chili sauce or a chili paste is called 辣酱 (làjiàng).

Understandably, something that is burning hot might be described as 热辣辣 (rèlàlà scorching).

泼辣 (pōlà) means shrewish and acerbic.

A vicious and cruel person or action might be described as 毒辣 (dúlà). (dú) means poisonous.

Tā shì gè dúlà de nǚrén.
She is a cruel and wicked woman.

心狠手辣 (xīnhěnshǒulà) describes a merciless heart and heinous actions.

Nà dǎitú xīnhěnshǒulà.
That scoundrel is cruel and malicious.

酸味 (suānwèi) is the sour taste, while 酸性 (suānxìng) refers to the acidity of a substance.

酸梅 (suānméi) are sour plums, from which the tasty 酸梅汤 (suānméi tāng sour plum drink) is made.

酸菜 (suāncài) is pickled Chinese mustard or Chinese cabbage.

酸牛奶 (suānniúnǎi) refers to yogurt or sour milk.

胃酸过多 (wèisuān guòduō) is a condition of having too much hydrochloric acid in the gastric juice, or having a so-called sour stomach.

酸痛 (suāntòng) is an aching feeing.

Wǒ liǎng tuǐ suāntòng.
My legs are sore.

The expression, 酸溜溜 (suānliūliū), is often used to describe a sour mind-set.

Tā jīntiān shuōhuà suānliūliū de.
He sounds sour and cynical today.

尖酸刻薄 (jiānsuān kèbó) is a phrase used to describe a harsh and nasty person or harsh and acrimonious words.

辛酸 (xīnsuān) and 心酸 (xīnsuān) are pronounced the same but are used differently. 辛酸 (xīnsuān) describes a sad or miserable experience, while 心酸 (xīnsuān) means feeling sadness in the heart.

想到他, 我就心酸
Xiǎngdào tā, wǒ jiù xīnsuān.
When I think of him, my heart aches.

[See Chapter 25 of “Learn Chinese through Songs and Rhymes” for more examples of using (jiù) in complex sentences.]

酸甜苦辣 (suāntiánkǔlà) refers to the joys and sorrows of life.

Tā jīnglì le rénshēng de suāntiánkǔlà.
He has gone through the joys and sorrows of life.


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