Double-boiled Whole Winter Melon Soup

Double-boiled Whole Winter Melon Soup

Double-boiled Whole Winter Melon Soup

I’ve always been in awe with the restaurant-styled whole winter melon soups – I mean, how on earth did they do that? They must have some giant double-boiler inside and it always taste so yummy! It’s a true favourite of mine when I go to Chinese restaurants to be able to drink it – especially with all the yummy insides that go with it! So I did manage to find a baby whole winter melon – which will fit into my soup pot, so here’s the recipe for it. You can actually use this on a whole winter melon, but you’ll need to just cut off whatever amount doesn’t fit into your pot and go from there. This is a pretty labour intensive soup with many steps, but so worth it!

Soup Name:

Double-boiled Whole Winter Melon Soup

Traditional Chinese Name:

冬瓜盅 (dōng guā zhōng)

 

For soup and recipe videos, visit us on YouTube.

You’ll need: 1 whole winter melon, dried shrimp, dried conpoy, fresh shrimp, fresh pork, dried mushrooms, straw mushrooms, salt, cornstarch, oil and chicken broth.  In actuality, this is a quick boil soup first and then double-boiled within the winter melon – or at least, that’s how this recipe goes. The thicker the winter melon, the longer it will need to be double-boiled, but at least you make the soup base first.

To start, soak all your dried Chinese goodies for 10-15 minutes – this includes the mushrooms, the conpoys and the shrimp.

Cut up the mushrooms. We don’t need the mushrooms ends, so you can discard this. Cut the mushrooms into tiny cubes. The idea is to use consistency across all the soup ingredients so they are the same size.

You can start working on “emptying” the winter melon. Start by slicing the top straight across, these beautiful parts can be used in your soup (less skin). Using a sharp, thin, knife, cut about 1 inch away from the edge and completely remove all the middle. You can discard the seeds first and keep the flesh to be added back into the soup. Go deep and leave about 1-inch from the bottom, you’ll have to be careful here and just eyeball it. Try really hard not to puncture the winter melon!  Using any parts of the leftover winter melon, cube that into the same size as the mushrooms. This will be used for your soup later.

Same with your meats. Cube the raw shrimp and raw pork. After this, you can mix them together with a bit of salt, oil and corn starch, in preparation for frying.  In a pot, add a tiny bit of oil and pan fry the dried shrimp and conpoy. This makes the fragrance and all the flavours are ready to come out in the soup. In Cantonese, there’s a term called “exploding the fragrance” of the ingredients.

When cooked for about 3 minutes on medium-high heat, throw in the raw shrimp and pork and stir that around a little bit for another 5 minutes.

You will then have a beautiful and very fragrant medley of your meats for the soup. Good enough to just eat on its own – for sure! But don’t!! You need it for the soup!

Here’s where it gets tricky. I made a giant pot of soup – so much that it doesn’t fit into the winter melon, which is OK, because you can still drink the quick boil as a quick boil soup any way. I used 1 part chicken broth and 2 parts water – this is because I don’t like soup too salty, and you can always add more salt or chicken broth after.
So now, throw everything into your pot. The broth and the straw mushrooms (which are also diced) and the diced winter melon.

Let that boil on medium heat for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, in your double-boiler, set it up so that you have a the winter melon sitting on a metal low dish (to catch any soup just in case) and add hot water to the outside double-boiler.

Once it’s set up, you can turn up the flame to a medium-high to get the water boiling. Once your other quick boil soup is read, scoop in generous amounts of the meats and “stuff” (fill about half) and then fill the rest with the soup. It won’t all fill, but tis is life sometimes!

The idea is that the heat will soften the winter melon bowl and the flavours of the soup will just seep into the flesh and make it so deliciously yummy! Boil on a medium heat for about 30 minutes, or until you see that the winter melon has softened and turned translucent. This means, it’s ready!

Finally, serve! Use a hardy soup ladle and scoop the soup meats, the soup itself and don’t forget to go for the outer winter melon flesh – that’s why it’s cooked in the double-boiler!

This was one awesome soup and I was super proud that it was a huge success on my first attempt! I’ve also had requests to try it with a larger winter melon, so that will be my next project. There are so many variations you can make on the soup though, like including Chinese preserved ham, ham, go vegetarian?, carrots, onions – whatever!

What’s involved?

Prep time: 1 hour

Cook time: 30 mins pre-boil on soup + 2 hours in double-boiler (or until the whole outer melon softens)

Total time: 3 hours and 30 minutes

Serves: 4-5 bowls

Ingredients

  • 1 small whole winter melon (that has to fit in your double-boil pot) – emptied and cube the flesh
  • 7 fresh shrimp, beheaded and peeled
  • 1/2 pound of fresh pork
  • 5 dried conpoys (or scallops)
  • 1 tablespoon of dried shrimp
  • 10 small dried Chinese mushrooms
  • 5 fresh straw mushrooms
  • salt (for taste as needed)
  • oil (for frying the ingredients first)
  • cornstarch (to thicken the soup as needed)

Cooking Instructions

  1. Soak your dried Chinese ingredients in warm water for 10-15 minutes (Chinese mushrooms, conpoys, shrimp)
  2. Empty out the middle of your winter melon – keeping in completely intact with the exception of the top. Keep to 1-inch of melon left from the edge. Throw away the seeds.
  3. Cut all your ingredients into cubes – Chinese mushrooms (removing the stems), straw mushrooms, any left over winter melon, fresh shrimp, fresh pork
  4. Add 1/2 teaspoon of salt, cornstarch and oil to your fresh shrimp and pork and mix
  5. In a pot, add a tiny bit of oil and fry (drain water) the dried conpoy and dried shrimp for 5 minutes on medium heat
  6. Throw in the raw shrimp and pork and fry for another 5 minutes
  7. Keep on medium heat, add in 1 part chicken broth and 2 parts boiling water
  8. Add in the remaining winter melon flesh and straw mushrooms
  9. Boil on medium for 30 minutes
  10. In your double-boiler, raise your winter melon (in a metal deep dish) and add hot water.
  11. Once your soup boils, scoop in enough stuff and soup to fill the winter melon.
  12. Boil on medium high for 30 minutes – or until the winter melon flesh is translucent.
  13. Serve all, including scooping the winter melon flesh and enjoy

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Quick Boil Chinese Soup Tips

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Quick Boil Chinese Soup Tips

So I’ve had various enquiries as to what constitutes a great quick boil and what are some tips I use for quick boils. It started out as a conversation with a colleague who said “I don’t have time to make these old fire Chinese soups!”, and I thought, well… there is a whole repertoire of quick boils soups available, why don’t I show my readers some and demonstrate just how easy and simple Chinese soups can be?

 

As a start, quick boil soups are soups that you typically can make under 30 minutes of boil, with 10-15 mins of prep time and is ready for immediate consumption.  Basically, you either have limited time or your stomach is demanding something quick.

 

 

Here are some common ingredients used in quick boil Chinese soups:

 

  • Melons make great quick boil candidates (winter melon, bitter melon, fuzzy melon, even watermelon and honey dew can be used!).
  • Fresh leafy greens such as bak choy, choy sum, napa cabbage are easy editions. Leafy vegetables tend to fare better in quick boil soups rather than old fire (or double-boiled soups).
  • Those great (smelly) dried Chinese seafood you find at the wet mart or Chinese herbalists are excellent! These include dried scallops (or conpoys), snails, conch, octopus, squid (cuttlefish), shrimp and whatever else you can find are excellent flavour enhancers when needed on such short notice.
  • Dried Chinese vegetables such as Chinese mushrooms, monkey head mushrooms,  and dried bak choy are also great quick boil additions! You’ll just need to soak the first thing you do if you’re preparing this soup.
  • Ready to go meats such as preserved Chinese Ham, cooked beef, fish, cuttlefish balls that are ready-to-serve or even any leftover meats such as pork ribs, steamed pork patty, chicken wings can be thrown into a quick boil.
  • Tofu! Tofu is a delight to add to quick boil soups. Tofu balls, large tofu chunks, ready-to-serve-tofu, tofu slices, however you can find them – you can definitely use them! A great vegetarian protein addition.
  • Easy meats such as fresh chicken wings, drumsticks, breasts, or sliced beef are good – you can even use frozen ones and use room temperature water to thaw quickly by soaking them in the water and changing the water a few times.

 

Here are also a few tips and tricks I’ve used for quick boil soups. Actually, I’d almost say they are critical to the success of the soup because you’ve got one constraint against you – time.

 

  • Use small cuts for everything – small cubes are best, especially for melons and vegetables such as carrots. Or go thin, like 2 cm thin slices of carrots, radish, mushrooms, etc..
  • Shuck corn if you like the corn separate, this will cook way faster. You can also use the cobs as part of the soup base.
  • Cut meats into smaller bite-sized pieces as well – they will also cook faster and as the water boils, it will release the flavours from more parts quicker.
  • Broths are your friends. If you need to enhance flavours, use chicken, beef or vegetable broth to boost the taste of the soup. Be sure to use MSG free ones.
  • Consider using the soup to help boil other parts of your dinner. For example, I will use the soup to boil broccoli for the children or choy sum for us. It’s a win-win situation!
  • If you’d like the soup to last a few days, you can definitely store leftovers in the fridge to be reheated up to 2-3 days later. I like making a bigger batch so I can consume later as to economize my efforts.

 

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Quick Boil Pumpkin and Corn Vegetarian Soup

Quick Boil Pumpkin and Corn Vegetarian Soup

Quick Boil Pumpkin and Corn Vegetarian Soup

Soup Name:

Quick Boil Pumpkin and Corn Vegetarian Soup

Traditional Chinese Name:

簡單菜湯 (Jiǎn dān cài tāng)

What started as a simple vegetable soup, turned into an interesting mix of hot and cold vegetables because I could! The children had the soup warm, served with macaroni for dinner and it’s an easy quick boil, meatless soup. You can add real meat if you’d like, ideally chicken breast or thighs for a quick boil or even Chinese preserved ham. A great, quick soup for those times when you’re just running out of time, but have a fridge full of vegetables! The base is quite easy and you can add any other vegetables that suit your taste!

For the quick boil, you’ll need to have small pieces of vegetables to enable them to cook faster and release flavours faster. I always keep the cobs for the soup base, there is SO MUCH flavour in those things! Throw everything into a pot of boiling water as a start.

Throw in the shucked loose corn and broth and boil on high heat for 30 minutes. You can throw in the snow peas to blanch for 2 minutes and then serve.  What I also did here was have extra “greek salad” ingredients (raw cucumbers, raw tomatoes, and parsley) just for fun – but it tasted awesome!

What’s involved?

Prep time: 10 mins

Cook time: 30 mins

Total time: 40 mins

Serves: 6 bowls

Ingredients

  • 1/2 fresh Japanese pumpkin, cubed (with skin off)

  • 2 fresh corn, shucked (keep the cob for the soup)

  • 20 fresh snow peas

  • 1 teaspoon of vegetable broth powder (or half a cup of vegetable soup stock)

  • 2 L of water

Cooking Instructions

  1. In a pot of boiling water, add cubed pumpkin, corn cobs, corn kernals and stock (or powder)
  2. Boil in high for 30 minutes
  3. Before serving, blanch the snow peas in the soup for 2 minutes
  4. Serve and enjoy!

The beauty of this is that you can add in your choice of cubed vegetables, such as carrots, radish, and even tomatoes that compliment the sweet flavours of the pumpkin.  

Alternatively, you can use miso paste instead of chicken powder, which is just as tasty as  quick boil!

 

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Sweet Chinese Almond Dessert Soup

Sweet Chinese Almond Dessert Soup

Sweet Chinese Almond Dessert Soup

This classic traditional Chinese dessert has been enjoyed throughout generations (even when I was little and when my parents were little). Common in most dessert houses and even served as dessert at the end of Cantonese meals, this almond packed dessert is smooth, slightly sweet, creamy and absolutely healthy! Almonds are known to reduce risk of heart problems and lowers LDL-cholesterol (the bad kind!). Actually, nuts.com has a very comprehensive review of the benefits of almonds. I need to think of more ways to incorporate almonds into my diet! For the Chinese, they say that this soup helps smooth the skin and keep it silky and white.

Almonds are a very common ingredient found in both Chinese soups, desserts, foods – especially the South and North kinds that are commonly used in soups. For this one, I went with western almonds bought in a supermarket already peeled. This sweet soup was far easier to make than I thought and can be consumed both warm or cold.

Soup Name

Sweet Chinese Almond Dessert Soup

Traditional Chinese Name:  

杏仁茶 (xìng rén chá)

For the whole recipe and to skip my commentary, scroll down.

To start, all you need is: raw almonds, rock sugar, raw rice, water and egg whites. What? That’s it? Haha… yes.

What’s involved?

Prep time: 10 mins
Cook time: 15 mins
Total time: 25 mins
Serves: 4 bowls

Ingredients

  • 200 g of raw almonds
  • 800 mL of water
  • 30 g of white rice
  • 40 g of rock sugar
  • 1 egg white

Cooking Instructions

  1. Soak your almonds in cool water for 4-5 hours to soften
  2. Drain water and in a blender, add about 600 mL of cool water, the almonds and 30 g of white rice
  3. Blend until smooth or very fine (liquefied as much as possible) – you can add more water to bring the level up to 800 mL at this point (or just start with 800 mL of water)
  4. Strain the liquid through a fine mesh bag into a pot
  5. Bring to a medium boil and boil for 10 minutes, while continuously stirring – you can throw in the rock sugar as it comes to boil and ensure it completely dissolves
  6. Add in an egg white and continuously stir for another 5 minutes
  7. Serve and enjoy!

Start soaking your almonds in cool water for about 3-4 hours. This will soften them, especially if you still have the skin on them, this will help you peel them so much easier. About 200 g of almonds will make 2 bowls, so what you see here is enough for 4 bowls.

Drain the water and refill with cool water into the bowl. This water and almonds will be the base of the dessert. I then throw this into a blender with 30g of white rice (I personally will use whatever is in the pantry, which was Thai long grained white rice at the time). Do note that I actually add more water later to make 800 mL worth total. This will significantly reduce when you strain the almonds through a fine mesh.

It takes a bit of grinding, but do work to grind as much and as fine as you can the almond mixture.  Here, you can see that it’s not yet quite as fine as it could be, so it took a bit of maneuvering up and down and sideways to get as much of the bulk to the bottom to grind further. Helps work your forearms and biceps. Keep going!

When you hear the blend spin pretty consistently and you can move the blender around, the mixture should be fine enough to strain and cook. It’s so beautiful that it almost looks like snow!

Push it ALL through a very fine mesh bag. This will separate the almond milk dessert from the grains. Some people like a little bit of the grainy parts, so add that if you’d like to your dessert. It’s completely up to you!

 

You should now have a very smooth, creamy almond milk-like liquid. Turn on the heat to a medium heat and bring the almond milk to a slow boil for about 10 minutes, continuously stirring the mixture.

Once it boils, add in the rock sugar. I used about 40 g, which isn’t too sweet – just perfect. Adjust accordingly depending on your taste. Don’t forget to continuously stir as well and boil for another 5 minutes or until the rock sugar dissolves completely. As tradition calls, slowly stream in 1 egg white while stirring to ensure consistency and then turn off heat and serve!

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Double-boiled Apple and Pear Chinese Herbal Soup

Double-boiled Apple and Pear Chinese Herbal Soup

Double-boiled Apple and Pear Chinese Herbal Soup

Soup Name

Double-boiled Apple and Pear Chinese Herbal Soup

Traditional Chinese Name:  

蘋果雪梨燉雞湯 (píng guǒ xuě lí dùn jī tāng)

 

For more videos, visit us on YouTube.

My second project using the new double-boiler! I found a very simple, but delicious apple and pear Chinese soup with pork and chicken and Chinese herbs. This is a pretty traditional Chinese soup and can be made both with or without double-boiling. The purpose of double-boiling is really to maintain density of the flavours and lock in (better than regular boiling) all that goodness. I’d almost argue that using a thermal pot is similar to double-boiling. Double-boiled soups are normally made in the winter because they can be more potent and provide extra punch and warmth. This soup is awesomely yummy! It is designed to help soothe and moisten the throat and lungs. Most Chinese double-boiled soups use both chicken and pork. Even if you use a silkie chicken, the Chinese will throw in a small piece of pork shank. This makes the soup very sweet and rich in flavours.

What’s involved?

Prep time: 30 mins

Cook time: 3 hours and 30 minutes in double boiler

Total time: 4 hours 

Serves: 4-6 bowls

Ingredients

To start, soak you herbs in warm water to soften. You can also scrub the Chinese Yam in running water before soaking to rinse off the sulphur that is sometimes used to process it. I just eyeball the amount of each herbs depending on the size of the pot, so it’s literally a handful of this and handful of that.

Prepare your meats by removing as much fat as possible. This means, going with lean pork shank and removing all the skin and fat from the chicken. I tried to get as small as a chicken as possible because my pot isn’t that big – in a previous post, I used chicken drumsticks – which work perfectly because of their size, portions and you get both bone and meat. In a separate pot, blanch the meats in boiling hot water for 5 minutes to remove scum, oil, dirt, blood and any extras that like to make their way out of the bones and meat and into your soup. Once blanched, remove the meat from the soup and set aside to cool and to add to your soup later.

Keep the skin on the apples and snow pears. Firstly, this will help keep them intact and not disintegrate too much into the soup and secondly, it will help you scoop it out when you need to. Plus, the skin has its own unique flavour too – just be sure to rinse really well!
Start boiling your double-boiler (inner pot) outside on the stove with half the volume of water that the container will hold. It’s easier to add more water later if you need to top up. When the water more or less boils, throw all the ingredients into the pot. In my case, I can say OOPS! I was still missing one snow pear and 1 apple and ended up removing the ends of the drumsticks to make it all squeeze in. See, it’s all sticking out!

Cover (if you can) and set to let it boil on medium heat for about 30 minutes. Do note that snow pears actually RELEASE more water as it boils, so the risk that it spills over is almost certain!

After 30 minutes of medium boil, turn off the heat and let the pot cool. Once it cools sufficiently for you to put into its outer double-boiler, add the inner pot into the larger outer pot. You can add water later – but when you add water to the outer pot – add hot water! This will reduce the temperature flux of your inner pot. Fill it with enough water so that you can cover the inner double-boiler and this outer pot water won’t spill into the double-boiler. Cover and set on a low boil (you can still see small bubbles) for about 3 hours.

 

You’ll know your soup is progressing well when you see the pears and apples and colour of the soup turn into a rich golden liquid. Most double-boiled soups some in this golden colour and you’ll know that the flavours are intense and rich.

Once your soup is ready, scoop out whatever you’d like and serve HOT! NO SALT NEEDED! That’s how sweet it is! Some people will like to eat the meats, dipped on soy sauce – by all means, do it! The meat is delicious as well. In my situation, I had leftover fruit, so I simply drank 2 bowls the size of rice bowls, threw in the rest of the fruit and added some more water and continued to double-boil it for another hour until dinner. Enjoy! I certainly did!

Cooking Instructions

  1. Soak all the Chinese herbs in warm water. You can rinse the dried Chinese yams under running water and rub them to remove any sulphur from the drying process.
  2. Prepare the meat by cutting in to large bite-size, removing all skin and fat.
  3. In a separate pot of boiling water, blanch all the meat in the boiling water for 5 minutes. Set aside when finished.
  4. Cut, core, remove seeds and cut the apples and pears into large bite-sizes, keeping on the skin.
  5. Boil you soup water at half capacity in the double-boiler.
  6. When the water boils, add all the ingredients into it and top up with hot water (or boiling water from a kettle).
  7. Boil on medium heat for 30 minutes.
  8. Turn off heat and set to cool enough that you can move the pot into the outer double-boiler pot.
  9. Put inner pot into outer pot and fill with enough water to cover up to at least 3/4 of the inner pot.
  10. Boil on low heat (minimal bubbles) for 3 hours.
  11. Serve and enjoy – soup stuff included!

For more videos, visit us on YouTube.

 

 

 

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