This is the start of the “Quick Boil Series” of soups. It was requested by a friend who wanted to know how to make healthy, but quick soups for those busy-body people. In general, quick boil soups take around 10 minutes to prepare and about 25-30 minutes to boil and contain easy-to-find, supermarket type ingredients that are readily available so not a lot of planning is required. This is one of my favourite quick boil soups – the winter melon. To start, quick boil soups usually require smaller cuts of vegetables or meats (so that they soften quicker and you can extract the flavours more quickly). The winter melon is a classic example of boiling it for around 30 minutes and you’ll find the flesh has become translucent and soft and edible. It’s simply delicious, suitable for the whole family and super easy to make!
Soup Name: Quick Boil Winter Melon, Mushrooms with Corn in Chicken Broth
Traditional Chinese Name: 冬瓜冬菇 玉米 雞熬湯(dōng guā dōng gū yù mǐ jī Áo tāng)
To see the full recipe, scroll down to skip my commentary.
What you’ll need in the simplest of terms are: dried Chinese mushrooms, a handful of dried conpoys (or scallops), a slice of winter melon, fresh corn, chicken breast and either chicken broth or chicken broth powder. To be honest with you, I don’t really measure or scientifically size the ingredients, I just put whatever amount I feel like depending on what I like to eat – which is more corn and more winter melon, so just go with what you like. It is, after all, your soup.
Start with soaking the mushrooms and dried conpoys. You’ll need a good 5 minutes to get the mushroom stems nice and soft, so for those who don’t eat them or prefer not to eat them, you can cut them off and then quarter or slice the mushrooms thinly. I keep these mushrooms in the freezer and they have been there for 6 months plus and are still great!
Chinese mushrooms ready for soup!
Mushrooms soaking in prep for quick boil soup
During this time, you can begin to boil your soup water. For a family of four, I used about 3 L of water and had plenty to go around. You can then begin to peel and slice your winter melon. In normal old fire Chinese soups, I would keep the skin on, but for quick boils, I would recommend removing the skin. This way, the winter melon softens much quicker, but you can add the skin into the soup for flavour. The winter melons are normally sold like this (if they are the large ones). The vendors or supermarket will already pre-slice them for you, so simply shave the skin off lying it flat on one side.
After that, cube the winter melon so they are literally bite-sized. This makes them quicker to soften and cook and also, easier to eat!
cubed winter melon for soup
The next things to do are slice the chicken breasts into bite-sized pieces as well. Keep them cubed and consistent with the size of the winter melons. No real reason other than the fact that it’s symmetrically similar and will also cook faster. You can also slice your mushrooms into cubes or into thin slices as pictured below. Similarly, bite-sized for ease of cooking.
Sliced Chinese mushrooms ready for soup
Same for the corn. The smaller the cut of the corn, the quicker it will cook and consistently “small” with the rest of the soup ingredients. In this case, I quartered them.
Fresh corn ready for soup
Once the water boils, throw all the ingredients together. People do ask me why I use boiling water in so many of my soup recipes, it’s because the immediate contact with heat cooks the meat or vegetables faster and prevents too much slow breakdown of the meat overtime and you’re able to save time by boiling it in parts.
Throwing all the ingredients together
Boil on high heat until it really comes to a big boil again – which should be about 5 minutes. Once it’s boiling, reduce heat to a medium boil – but leave it covered (in order to maintain some pressure in the pot) for another 20 minutes. At this time, I will add either half a cup of chicken stock or 1 teaspoon of powdered chicken bouillon. This way, enough time has passed for the flavours of the ingredients to come out and you can taste how much you want to further season the soup. Don’t forget to taste it along the way! You’ll know it’s close to being done with the chicken breast has turned complete white and opaque and your winter melon is a nice translucent colour.
Quick boil winter melon soup
Serve and enjoy! Don’t forget to scoop out the delicious ingredients to eat as part of your hearty soup.
Quick boil winter melon soup
Quick Boil Winter Melon, Mushrooms with Corn in Chicken Broth
Recipe Type: Soup
Serves: 4 bowls
2 medium-sized chicken breasts, bite-sized cubed
1 2-inch thick slice of [url href=”http://www.thechinesesouplady.com/winter-melon/” title=”fresh winter melon”]winter melon[/url], skinned and bite-sized cubed
Chilled Coconut Milk with Tapioca Pearls and Fresh Fruit
Chilled Coconut Milk with Tapioca Pearls and Fresh Fruit
Traditional Chinese Name:
椰汁西米露 (Yē zhī xī mǐ lù)
I had a craving for a cold, sweet, coconut milk flavoured dessert and the only thing that came to mind was this commonly available dessert in Hong Kong that matched it.
I always thought it was hard to make, but after some research and discussions with the people at those dessert shops, it’s super easy!!
The thing I love about it is that you can make the base, primarily made of coconut milk, and then add whatever fruit, toppings, additives you want to make it your own. This worked great for the kids!
Prep time: 40 mins
Cook time: 30 mins + 2 hours chill
Total time: 3 hours 10 mins
Serves: 6 bowls
1 can of coconut milk
1 cup of whole milk
3 cups of water
rock sugar (as sweet as you like – taste if first!)
1 cup of small tapioca pearls
fresh fruit, chopped into bite-sized pieces
condensed milk (optional to sweeten if not sweet enough)
Soak the tapioca in cool water for 30 minutes first. In a pot of cold water, boil tapioca pearls on medium heat for around 10-15 minutes. Check the consistency and transparency of the pearls. When they are done, they’ll be completely transparent, but be careful they don’t start to melt.
Remove from heat and run through cold water to separate. You can either leave in a bowl with cold water or just leave them in a bowl when sufficiently cooled. Set at room temperature is OK.
In a separate pot, boil the water with the rock sugar.
When the rock sugar has completely melted, reduce heat to a low boil and add in coconut milk and whole milk. Boil and stir together for about 5 minutes. Taste to see if it’s sweet enough. If not, you can add more rock sugar and boil on low heat until the sugar is dissolved.
Remove from heat and chill in the fridge for at least 2 hours.
When ready to eat, in a serving bowl, ladle in as much coconut milk as you like, add the tapioca pearls and load on the fruits!
To start, the base is simply coconut milk, whole (or skim) milk, water, and rock sugar. Some recipes call for evaporated milk, but after sampling it with just the milks, water and sugar, it was smooth and rich enough for me. You can find these types of tapioca (or sago) pearls from the supermarket or wet mart.
They come in a variety of sizes, flavours and colours. Typically, for this dessert, use the smaller, white pearls that turn transparent when boiled. They are flavourless and turn into a chewy ball of … chewy.
First, soak the tapioca in warm water for about 30 minutes. This will soften and expand them slightly. You then need to boil the tapioca until it’s completely cooked. You’ll know it’s completely cooked when the entire ball turns transparent. Semi-cooked will show a white spot in the middle.
The problem is that smaller balls will cook faster and then start dissolving on you, so just take care to judge how well done on average your tapioca pearls are. The trick is that you rinse the tapioca in COLD, running water after you’ve cooked it. Some people continue to soak them in a bit of cold water, or just leave them to sit cool. If you keep the warm, they will continue to cook and then merge into one giant ugly ball of tapioca!
Next, start to boil your water and let the rock sugar dissolve. Taste to see how sweet you prefer it because everyone is different. I went with a less sweet version and if people wanted it sweeter, I gave them condensed milk to mix in – just as yummy!
Reduce heat to a low simmer and mix in the coconut milk and whole (or skim) milk. You don’t want to boil the coconut milk too much or it starts to break down and separate, so give it enough heat to mix together. Boil for around 10 minutes and remove from heat. This dessert is best eaten cold, so I moved it to the fridge to cool for a few hours.
The last thing is to put it together – your way. I personally love fresh fruit with mine, so when the coconut milk mixture was sufficient cooled, I added the tapioca pearls and fresh strawberries. It’s great with fresh, chilled melons, pears, mango, durian or whatever your great imaginative mind comes up with!
This is another one of those great recipes that are handed down through generations. I got this from an Auntie who is an amazing cook and simplified this recipe so that it’s so simple and yet, tastes so good! You can use a variety of rib cuts – I’ve made it with the traditional Chinese spare ribs cut (pictured here), but also made it using baby back ribs, too. When I make this, I use the measurements as a base, but adjust it as it cooks. I know some people prefer it sweeter or more sour or more salty, so definitely sample your cooking as you go!
Dish Name: Sweet and Sour Pork with Ginger(for Chinese Confinement)
Traditional Chinese Name: 糖醋排骨 (Táng cù páigǔ)
Scroll down for the full printable recipe.
For this recipe, I will use a fatter cut of meat. This is because it stews for quite some time and you don’t want the pork to dry out and shrivel up into dried pork. Over time, the fat will come out and you can simply scoop it out before consumption.
Sweet and Sour Pork (fresh spare ribs)
I will also rinse the pork in warm water when I get them from the vendor (just in case). Then throw it into a stainless steel pot and follow this simple base for recipe. It’s basically 1-2-3 (tablespoons).
1 tablespoon of soy sauce 2 tablespoons of sugar (any type) 3 tablespoons of white vinegar
And then you proportion it out appropriately. So for the amount picture above, which is around 1 pound of spare ribs, I multiplied by 3, so I got 3 tablespoons of soy sauce, 6 tablespoons of sugar, and 9 tablespoons of white vinegar. If you want, you can add a quarter cup of water for good measure. For confinement, my recommendation is to load up on ginger. This can be ginger slices, ginger cubes, the whole ginger, grated ginger, ginger juice – however spicy you can take it, do it. Optional ingredients also include whole garlic, black or white pepper and even star anise.
Sweet and Sour Pork
I know it may sound like a flaky recipe, but I do believe in that cooking is an art (and baking the science). That’s why you have to taste it as you go along (when it’s more cooked). Start with this though, trust me. It has never failed me as a base. After about an hour on a very low simmer, you’ll notice that the liquid evaporates to leave a thick, sticky and delicious beautifully dark sweet and sour pork ribs. Scoop off the top layers of oil and serve!
Sweet and Sour Pork – The Final Product
Sweet and Sour Pork with Ginger (for Confinement)
Recipe Type: Appetizer or Main Course
Cuisine: Chinese Food
Serves: 1 dish
1 pound of fresh spare ribs or pork ribs
1 x 3 = 3 tablespoons of soy sauce
2 x 3 = 6 tablespoons of sugar
3 x 3 = 9 tablespoons of white vinegar
1-inch root of [url href=”http://www.thechinesesouplady.com/ginger-fresh/”]fresh ginger[/url]
1/4 cup of water
Rinse your spare ribs or pork ribs in warm water (to clean)
Put all the ingredients into a stainless steel pot (or clay pot)
Boil on high heat for 10 minutes
Reduce to a low simmer for another hour, checking every 10 minutes on taste and whether it is drying out too much. If so, add another quarter cup of water.