Bitter Melon Soup with Corn and Pork Meatballs

Bitter Melon Soup with Corn and Pork Meatballs

Bitter Melon Soup with Corn and Pork Meatballs

Soup Name:

Bitter Melon with Corn and Pork Meatballs Soup

Traditional Chinese Name:

簡單菜湯 (Jiǎn dān cài tāng)


I made this after work one day and managed to pick up fresh veggies and meat from the wet mart on the way home. Sometimes I plan for soup, sometimes I don’t, and this soup is one of those last minute made-up combinations because I felt like having meatballs and bitter melon at the same time!

The pork meatballs are a substitute for the pork bones and I could eat them along with my soup. I also made extra and froze for a rainy day so I could pan fry – no wasted efforts! The bitter melon is also cooling, helps relieve heat in my body, and helps relieve that painful tongue after eating too much fried food.

What’s involved?

Prep time: 10 mins

Cook time: 30 mins

Total time: 40 mins

Serves: 6 bowls


    • 2 fresh bitter melons, halved (with skin), de-seeded, and sliced
    • 2 fresh corn, quartered
    • 20 fresh ginkgo biloba
    • 1 pound of fresh ground pork
    • half fresh onion, diced
    • 1 egg
    • your own spices
    • 1 tsp of chicken broth powder
    • 2 L of water

Cooking Instructions

  1. Boil your soup water
  2. Wash and cut the corn and throw into the soup water
  3. Wash and cut up the bitter melon (de-seed and keep on the skin) and add with the ginkgo biloba to your soup
  4. in a separate bowl, mix in the diced onions, spices and 1 egg until the pork fat becomes stringy and quite sticky
  5. Roll into bite-sized meatballs
  6. When the soup water boils, drop in the meatballs one at a time, ensuring that the water is still boiling (this ensures the meatballs cook immediately when they hit the water and stays together)
  7. Boil on high for 25 minutes
  8. Serve and enjoy!

Start with the meatballs base.  I mix in ground pork, diced onions, and 1 egg and seasoned with black pepper, salt, and a bit of soy sauce.  You can also add paprika, fresh ginger, green onions, even bread crumbs.  Then you roll them into little round balls to be dropped into your soup!

Boil your soup water in a pot on medium heat and add in the corn.  As this boils, you can prepare the bitter melon.  I halve them and scrape out the seeds with a spoon and then cut them quite thinly.  The key to quick boil soups is that the ingredients cook fast!

When the water boils, throw in the sliced bitter melon and gingko and 1 tsp of chicken broth powder.  When it boils again, drop in your meatballs and leave it to boil for 25 minutes on medium heat.

Garnish with green onions, parsley, or cilantro as you wish.  This totally eats like a meal!  Serve with rice or noodles.


Basic Pork Congee

Basic Pork Congee

Basic Pork Congee

Soup Name: Basic Pork Congee (or aka Skinny Pork Congee)

Traditional Chinese Name:  瘦肉粥 (shòu ròu zhōu)

Congee is one of the many comfort foods available within the Chinese cuisine. Nothing is simpler than pork congee and using this recipe as a base, you can actually go pretty far when loading it up with additions or adding different flavours. I use this especially when the children are sick and it’s a great first foods on top of baby cereal and smashed up vegetables.

What’s involved?

Prep time: 5 mins

Cook time: 25 mins

Total time: 30 mins

Serves: 8 bowls


  • 1/2 pound of lean, fresh pork, largely cubed
  • 6 pieces of dried scallops
  • 2 cups of long-grain rice
  • 2 L of water
  • 1/2 teaspoon of salt
  • Whatever toppings you want

The ingredients for the soup are: Dried scallops, skinny boneless pork cuts, long-grained rice, salt and water.  To start, I usually start with really lean cuts of pork from the butcher and then cut them into large chunks that don’t shrivel up too small in the congee, but are small enough that the flavours come out. You can blanch the pork if you want, but being this thin of a cut, I usually don’t.  I will however, salt the pork with about half a teaspoon of salt.

Begin to boil your water with cleaned rice. You can throw in the dried soaked scallops at this time, but the meat usually goes into the water when it boils.

Once the water boils, add in the fresh pork and let it boil on high for about 5 minutes and then reduce to a medium boil for another 20 minutes, stirring occasionally to ensure the bottom doesn’t stick and making sure it doesn’t boil over. At this time, I will transport the pot into my thermal cooker to let it bake some more. I also tend to add more water than normal because I like my congee watery!


The Kiddie Version

For the child with the stomach flu, this is what she got. Plain congee with some Japanese rice flavouring. She lapped it up, 3 bowls in a row. This is also why the extra water helps – get more liquid into her system.

Here’s my upgraded, “souped up”, adult version of the congee. It’s really a fabulous comfort food in that you can add anything like:


  • salted peanuts
  • pickled vegetables (like radishes, cucumbers)
  • kimchi
  • salted fish (Chinese-styled)
  • preserved black bean fish (Chinese-styled)
  • preserved and spicy tofu (foo-yu)
  • pork floss
  • egg
  • green onions or parsley
  • and the list goes on and on if you get creative enough


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Pork and Conch Herbal Soup

Pork and Conch Herbal Soup

Pork and Conch Herbal Soup

Pork and Conch Herbal Soup


This soup is ideal for colds, flus and cough. If you’ve got a sore or scratchy throat, achy body, tiredness and/or headache – this soup is for you!  From an Eastern perspective, the Chinese don’t recommend drinking chicken soup when you’re sick, which to me, sounds off, but you can’t argue thousands years of tradition through Chinese medicine.  My herbalist recommended this relatively “neutral” soup for me and is considered 滋陰 (zī yīn), which means treating yin deficiency by reinforcing body fluid and nourishing the blood.  If you look at the herb base, it’s pretty basic and ideal for most soups – the kicker is to add sea whelk (or conch or sea snail). You don’t need to add fresh sea snail (they can get pretty expensive if you buy them live from the wet mart), but definitely add pork. This soup ended up tasting delicious and sets a great base for adding vegetables of your choice – like corn, onions, or chayotes – all neutral vegetables.

Update on Jan 8: Boy, do my readers really keep me on my toes! Someone asked why the Chinese don’t recommend chicken soup when you’re sick, so I ran to see my herbalist this morning who gave me an answer like this. Basically, the idea is that chicken bones / carcasses itself are way fatter than pork and normally people will put veggies such as carrots with chicken soup – which is a big no no. Carrots are a cough inducing and don’t help colds or coughs very much. As for the chicken, well, I could borderline say that if you’re using chicken breast or skinny (fatless) chickens, it should be OK? I’m still researching this, but will share more when I find something more concrete.

Soup Name: Pork and Conch Herbal Soup

Traditional Chinese Name:  清豬骨海螺湯 (Qīng zhū gǔ hǎiluó tāng)


Pork and Conch Herbal Soup
Recipe Type: Chinese Soup
Cuisine: Chinese
Author: LadyTong
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 8
  • 1 pound of [url href=””]fresh pork shank[/url]
  • 2 fresh [url href=””]sea snails[/url], shelled and halved
  • 5 pieces of dried [url href=””]sea snail[/url]
  • 15 [url href=””]dried longans[/url]
  • 3 [url href=””]dried large dates[/url]
  • 10 [url href=””]dried red dates[/url]
  • 5 [url href=””]dried Chinese yam[/url]
  • 10g of [url href=””]dried yuzhu[/url]
  • 10g of [url href=””]dried wolfberries[/url]
  • 3 L of water
  • salt (for taste)
  1. In a separate pot, blanch both the sea snails and pork in a pot of boiling hot water for at least 5 minute (to remove impurities, fat and scum), remove and set aside
  2. Soak all the herbs in warm water for at least 10 minutes and rinse in warm water
  3. Boil your soup water
  4. When you soup water boils, add all the ingredients together
  5. Boil on high for 30 minute and then reduce boil to a medium boil for another 1.5 hours
  6. Serve and enjoy!


One of the more affordable seafood you can use for soups is dried sea snail. They come in thin, hard slices and add a sweet, sea-salt taste to the soup (similar to dried conpoys). Plus, these things are storage friendly and can be stored in your freezer or fridge for up to 6 months.

Dried Sea Snail

Dried Sea Snail

A typical neutral soup base for Chinese soups. The dried sea snails are interchangeable with dried conpoys.

Pork and Conch Herbal Soup

Pork and Conch Herbal Soup

Fresh sea snails are an ideal addition to soups. Although VERY EXPENSIVE (you have to eat the meat given how much they can cost), they add a deliciously sweet flavour to the soup. Get the ladies at the wet mart to break the shell for you and they’ll give it to you like this – ready for washing and blanching in boiling hot water.

Fresh Sea Snail

Fresh Sea Snail

YUMMY soup! I literally had 4 bowls myself and the children also loved it. A great soup for the whole family.

Pork and Conch Herbal Soup

Pork and Conch Herbal Soup


Roasted Pork

Ingredient Name: Roasted Pork (Head)

Traditional Chinese Name: 燒豬 (shāo zhū)

What is this?
  • Fully cooked and edible piglet roasted Cantonese-style
  • This is the leftovers from a full roasted piglet (as not to waste any part of it)
  • The piglet is roasted and has a crisply, slightly salty outer skin
  • Roasted pig is traditionally served in banquets, for special occasions like baby’s 30 or 100 day celebration, weddings, birthdays
  • It is a common fare (mainly the stomach and meaty portions) in most Cantonese styled restaurants

How do I prepare it?

  • No need to wash or blanch this meat
  • Serve as is
  • Cut into edible portions (for the head, I cut it into quarters)

Where can I buy this?

  • Any Cantonese-styled restaurant will serve roasted pork
  • Most restaurants will serve roasted piglet (on pre-order)

What is the cost?

  • The price will vary depending on season (more expensive during Chinese New Year’s), size, location
  • On average, it’s around $30 HKD per catty

Any benefits?

  • The meat is very tasty and creates a wonderful aroma (even if boiled just by itself!)
  • You don’t need to add additional salt to the soup as the roasted pork itself is already salty
  • The head is a skinny portion of the pork, so fat is minimal
  • The roasted pork head can be kept frozen for up to 3 months to be used for soups

Any precautions?

  • Be sure to cut the bones clean through to avoid splinter and bones floating in the soup
  • Avoid using the stomach or other common parts of roasted pork as those parts are more fatty and the fat will dissolve into the soup


Steamed Pork Patty with Ginger

Steamed Pork Patty with Ginger

Dish Name: Steamed Pork Patty with Ginger

Traditional Chinese Name: 蒸豬肉餅 (zhēng zhū ròu bǐng)

This is a staple and very common Canton (Chinese-styled) dish. You can create a great base (as outlined below) and then add a variety of ingredients to enhance flavors and textures. I know this recipe is outside of my soup repertoire, but for the sake of confinement, we’re doing a series of recipes to supplement our Confinement story! Use lean pork, go easy on the soy sauce and salt and be sure to load up on the ginger! Variations include adding dried mushrooms, water chestnuts, fried preserved vegetables, mixing ground chicken meat, dried baby shrimp and basically anything you think would spice up the dish. The trick to making this dish with a great flaky texture is to be sure to massage the meat (either with your hands or a fork). I would love to hear your versions for steamed pork patty!

What are the ingredients? Good for 1-2 servings:

  • 100 g of lean ground pork
  • 2 tablespoons of light soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon of cornstarch (optional)
  • 30 g of sliced ginger

How do I prepare it?

  1. In a bowl, mix lean ground pork, soy sauce and cornstarch. Using either your hands or a fork, massage the meat so that the little white rolled pieces of fat become thin and sticky
  2. Shift the pork thinly on to a low metal dish (no more than 1-inch in thickness)
  3. Spread evenly the ginger on top of the pork patty
  4. Place the dish on a raised pot of boiling water (or steamer)
  5. Steam for about 20-30 minutes (or until pork is thoroughly cooked)
  6. Skim off the top oil and serve hot

Any benefits?

  • This cut and type of cooking is low in fat (as the fat is all seeped out during the cooking process)
  • This is a good base for additional ingredients if your palate requires something more
  • Super easy to make and quite hands free once it’s cooking
  • Great for kids as well, so you can make it for confinement and other family members!

Any precautions?

  • For confinement, do not add any cooling foods (ie: water chestnuts)
  • Another common ingredient is to use dried salted fish, which I caution as some are high in carcinogenics