Check out the video on how to create awesome wontons at home!
What I’ve done here is used a “cheat” chicken broth where I’m using a chicken stock as a base, but flavoring it a bit more with some additional ingredients. A great use of veggie scraps sometimes in these cases.
And one of a Chinese Soup Chef’s best friend, the soup bag is used here. I highly recommend getting a few at home. Be sure to wash and boil first before usage. Since they are made of cotton, you can throw them in the wash as well or wash by hand. They keep EVERYTHING in, including onion skins, seeds, flower petals, fish bones, the works. Instead of straining, just use one of these which you can just drop into your soup and voila! easy to remove ingredients.
Chop up the soup “cheat” ingredients and put them all into the soup bag
Add directly to your chicken broth and boil on medium heat for 30 minutes
For the wontons, mix in ground chicken, diced shrimp and all the seasoning together
Chop up the chives and fresh green onions and add them in
Mix well together until the meat creates strands (it should be pretty sticky)
Put a small amount of meat into the middle of your wonton and using your finger, wet all around the edges and fold as you’d like (there are so many techniques out there, I just like to squish it at the top to form a little package)
Wrap them all as to ensure the wonton skins don’t dry out
Remove the soup bag from your soup, ensuring there’s nothing remaining in the soup
Add in 10-15 wontons. This should bring the soup down from a boil.
Once the soup begins to boil, add in 200mL of water to reduce the temperature. This will keep the wontons whole and not boiled and destroyed in the voracity of the boil. Do this 2 additional times meaning, when it boils again, add 100mL of water. I know this will dilute the soup somewhat, so you can also do this in a separate pot of water or add more chicken broth.
Once it begins to boil the 3rd time around. Strain out, scoop some soup, garnish and serve!
I was inspired to make this soup one day when I walked by the wet mart and saw the vendor carving up this giant fresh winter melon and I thought, “Gosh, that’s be amazing to use!”. I didn’t want to make a soup that day, but really wanted something savory, tasty, and soft. So another way to make winter melon is to stew it! And normally, you can pair winter melon with Chinese ham, but I went for a western spin and decided to make a fusion version with Parma Ham instead (which is equally salty).
Prep time: 15 mins
Cook time: 45 mins
Total time: 1 hour
Serves: 4-5 people
1 slice of fresh winter melon (about 2-3 inches thick is good)
1 bowl of smaller dried Chinese mushrooms
1 bowl of fresh, cored gingko bilobas
1 pack of Parma Ham
9-10 cloves of fresh garlic
A sprinkling of preserved Chinese vegetables
Start by soaking the Chinese mushrooms in room temperature water for about an hour to soften them
I like to use giant butcher’s knives for chopping most things because the weight and leverage just lessens the work! Chop your winter melon into large-sized pieces, removing the seeds and keeping the skin. This will help keep in place as it softens in your stew and not disintegrate into a million pieces and become blah…
The go about removing the ends of the mushrooms. A sharp knife or kitchen scissors will do the job!
In your soup pot, with a bit of oil and on medium heat, pan fry the garlic cloves until they are brown (and smell yummy!), then you toss in the mushroom and pan fry for about 3 minutes.
Drop in the gingko bilobas and also fry for 3 minutes
Then you extract the Parma Ham and just place it on top of the other ingredients and stir slightly
Add in 2 cups of boiling water and a sprinkling of Chinese preserved vegetables and mix it altogether
Cover and boil for 45 minutes, stirring every once in a while so it doesn’t stick, or that you still have enough liquid in the pot
This crab congee is super easy to make! The key ingredient really is just the crab. It’s a warming, traditional comfort food that can also be luxurious and delicious. If you get nice female crabs, the roe comes all out into the soup and really adds a special flavour.
Prepare the crab (see my post on fresh crab on preparation), cut into quarters and set aside
Prepare the fresh chicken by cutting in thin strips
Begin to boil your water and throw in the rice using high heat
Stir every once in awhile to ensure that the congee doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pot
When the water boils, add in chicken strips, dried scallops (or conpoys)
When the water boils again, throw in the prepared crab
Continue to stir the congee occasionally and add one cup of boiling water as it thickens. How thin or thick is a personal preference, so you can add less or more water as you desire.
Reduce heat to a medium simmer, cover the pot and let it continue to boil for another 30 minutes. Revisit the pot to stir it, ensuring you stir it right from the bottom.
Add in the preserved Chinese vegetables and mix again.
Let it boil for another 5 minutes.
Serve and top with your favourite toppings such as fresh parsley, green onions, chives or any of the delicious preserved Chinese goodies like garlic, radish, baby cucumbers or pork floss
Here’s how I made it!
To start, you’ll need: 2 fresh live crabs, fresh chicken slices, ginger slices, fresh green onions, dried scallops, and preserved Chinese vegetables (as shown).
I’ve made this many times trying different types of crab. The best and most flavourful crabs ideal for congee are smaller crabs that really aren’t as expensive (at around $70 HKD per crab). While they are smaller, the seem to seep a crab-y and seafood, ocean flavour into the congee, including the roe and cream of the crab into the soup. I’ve also tried more expensive crab (at around $170 HKD per crab) which had more meat, but somehow, it was more just crab by itself and the congee by itself – the two never really blended. But definitely explore yourself and see what works best for you and your family.
You can see my other post on how to prepare fresh crab. A few tips:
Using a big knife, chop off the sharp edges of the legs, shell, claws and any other sharp parts
Using also the back side of a big knife, create cracks in the legs and hard places (so that you can easily eat it out of the congee)
Do not throw away any of the eggs, roe, or cream (found at the head primarily) – the Chinese call these the best parts!
Buy female crabs
Slice the fresh chicken into thin strips. How much you use is really up to you. Since I like my protein, I tend to add more protein everywhere I go! The dried scallops can also be rinsed under warm water ahead of use. And take a few slices of fresh ginger. I tend to keep the pieces quite large so that I can isolate them in the congee and not scoop them out. I also don’t use a lot as I am not a fan of ginger and neither are the children, but you do need a little bit to eliminate any fishy taste in the congee, although I find the crab doesn’t really emit this.
Start boiling your congee water (the bigger the pot, the better!) it’s easier to add more hot water than let it reduce to the appropriate amount. I’ll throw in the rice right away and wait until the water boils. Once it boils, I will add in the chicken, scallops, and ginger.
Once that boils, then feel free to add in the prepared crab. Be sure to stir this pretty often to ensure that the rice doesn’t stick to the bottom. This will also help keep the heat even throughout the pot as it might be quite crowded with all the stuff inside.
Boil this on medium heat for another 30 minutes. The rice will thicken and you can add a cup of boiling water (or really hot water from the nice Chinese hot water boilers) to thin it out. How thick you’d like your soup is completely up to personal preference. I like my congee a bit thinner, with more liquid, but this is up to you.
When it’s almost done (with about another 5 minutes until serving), throw in a handful of preserved Chinese vegetables. I use a very specific one that comes in a ceramic pot and is called “dong choy”. It’s very salty, so use with caution. I don’t add any additional salt after that.
When ready, serve and enjoy! I also top with chives or parsley or fresh green onions. There’s also some other cool Chinese condiments that go with congee, such as preserved baby cucumbers, radish, onions, shallots, dried pork floss, or vinegar soaked garlic.
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.
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
your own spices
1 tsp of chicken broth powder
2 L of water
Boil your soup water
Wash and cut the corn and throw into the soup water
Wash and cut up the bitter melon (de-seed and keep on the skin) and add with the ginkgo biloba to your soup
in a separate bowl, mix in the diced onions, spices and 1 egg until the pork fat becomes stringy and quite sticky
Roll into bite-sized meatballs
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)
Boil on high for 25 minutes
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.
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’l 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 Soup Name: 冬瓜盅 (dōng guā zhōng)
For the whole recipe and to skip my commentary, scroll down.
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.
Soaking dried Chinese mushrooms
Soaking dried shrimp and conpoys
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.
Cubed Chinese mushrooms
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!
Emptying the middle of 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.
Cube the winter melon
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.
Fry the dried conpoys and shrimp
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.
Add in the raw shrimp and pork
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!
Your medley of meats 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.
Soup in progress
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.
Setting up the winter melon for double-boil
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!
Soup into the winter melon – ready for double-boiling!
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!
Ready to serve when the winter melon flesh is translucent
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!
Go ahead, scoop it all out!
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!
Double-boiled Whole Winter Melon Soup
Recipe Type: Soup
Cuisine: Chinese Soup
Serves: 8 bowls
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
1 tablespoon of dried shrimps
10 small dried Chinese mushrooms
5 fresh straw mushrooms
Soak your dried Chinese ingredients in warm water for 10-15 minutes (Chinese mushrooms, conpoys, shrimp)
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.
Cut all your ingredients into cubes – Chinese mushrooms (removing the stems), straw mushrooms, any left over winter melon, fresh shrimp, fresh pork
Add 1/2 teaspoon of salt, cornstarch and oil to your fresh shrimp and pork and mix
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
Throw in the raw shrimp and pork and fry for another 5 minutes
Keep on medium heat, add in 1 part chicken broth and 2 parts boiling water
Add in the remaining winter melon flesh and straw mushrooms
Boil on medium for 30 minutes
In your double-boiler, raise your winter melon (in a metal deep dish) and add hot water.
Once your soup boils, scoop in enough stuff and soup to fill the winter melon.
Boil on medium high for 30 minutes – or until the winter melon flesh is translucent.
Serve all, including scooping the winter melon flesh and enjoy!
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