Winter Melon with Chicken and Mushrooms Rice Soup

Winter Melon with Chicken and Mushrooms Rice Soup

Winter Melon with Chicken and Mushrooms Rice Soup

Soup Name:

Winter Melon with Chicken and Mushrooms Rice Soup

Chinese Name:

冬瓜雞湯飯 (dōng guā jī tāng fàn)

 

For more videos, visit us on YouTube.

Sometimes, you just want something simple, something warm, something soupy, but all-in-one.  

There’s a concept called “Soup Rice” in the Chinese food repertoire that basically is any type of rice served with a soup.  It’s quite popular in the Chiu Chou-style (where my mom is from, so we ate it all the time).  It’s different from congee because congee is boiled rice, but this is literally a scoop of rice dropped into soup.

 

“Soup Rice”, aka 湯飯, comes with a variety of soups!  It is also known as “Pao Fan” (泡飯) and is commonly found in Singaporean, Taiwanese, Japanese, and Korean cuisine (on top of Chinese).  Pao Fan itself means submerged rice, so theoretically, rice submerged in sauce, liquid, or toppings.

Did you know that the soup rice was traditionally served during the rice harvest season and made into large pots to serve the village? It was also seen as food of the poor. These days, soup rice can be found in many cuisines in Asia with a variety of soup bases, included lobster, dried fish, and a variety of vegetables!

Actually, most soups can be made into soup rice.  In general, there’s some protein, some vegetables, and a soup base. 

This is a simple chicken, mushrooms, with winter melon soup in rice.  The Chinese celery is to add a little more elevated flavors and the ginger is to balance the cooling winter melon, although that’s optional.

Serve up the soup as one giant pot on the table.  Then everyone can have rice in large bowls and ladle their own soups and ingredients inside!  So warming, so yummy!

 

What’s involved?

Prep time: 15 mins

Cook time: 30 mins

Total time: 45 mins

Serves: 6 servings

Ingredients
  • 4 chicken thighs, chopped
  • 1 large slice of winter melon, peeled and largely cubed
  • 5-6 fresh shiitake mushrooms
  • 2 stalks of Chinese celery
  • 5 slices of fresh ginger
  • Chicken or beef broth stock
  • 2L of water
  • 3 cups of rice, cooked in rice cooker
Cooking Instructions
  1. In a shallow pan, you can pan-fry your chopped chicken thighs (skin down) to brown the skin.  You don’t need to add oil as the skin will naturally release oils.  Brown until crusted over and set aside.
  2. Begin to boil your soup water
  3. Prepare your winter melon by skinning and cutting into large cubes
  4. You can also wash and slice your fresh shiitake mushrooms and Chinese celery
  5. Once your soup water boils, you can throw everything into together, including the stock
  6. Boil on medium for 30 minutes
  7. Serve and top with rice!

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Fragrant Potatoes and Tomatoes in a Milky Fish Broth

Fragrant Potatoes and Tomatoes in a Milky Fish Broth

Fragrant Potatoes and Tomatoes in a Milky Fish Broth

Soup Name:

Fragrant potatoes and tomatoes in a milky fish broth (yup, fancy name!)

Traditional Chinese Name:

番茄魚湯 (fānqié yú tāng)

This name of 番茄魚湯 is literally the most staple name for any soup with fish and tomatoes in it.  Of course, get creative!

This soup is neutral in nature sweet to taste.

 

For videos, visit us on YouTube.

When you’ve got that milky broth going, you know you’ve got the soup base right for your fish soup.

It’s been awhile since I made a fish soup and my kids have grown up this pretty traditional Cantonese-styled soup from their grandma, so I decided to make it again in Toronto.

I wasn’t sure what type of fish I’d find at the supermarket for soup making, but it is pretty fully loaded!!   To be honest, you can use any type of fish for fish soup.  However, I would recommend using more of the bones parts of the fish.  The head is the best with the tail being second and then stomach and main body.  The head is packed full of calcium, nutrients, and collagen.  And when boiled out in soup, dissolves into the soup and gives it more of that milky disposition.  It’s truly amazing!  Read on on how to prepare the fish.

 

What’s involved?

Prep time: 45 mins

Cook time: 3 hours

Total time: 3 hours 45 mins

Serves: 8 bowls

Ingredients

Tips before you start!

  •  Pan-fry in ginger and oil (add scallions if you’d like) the first before you add it to the soup.  This will make it more fragrant and eliminate the fishy smell and taste.
  • Also pan-fry the potatoes on high heat, crusting all sides (doesn’t need to be fully cooked).  This will keep it together in the soup and prevent it from dissolving and disappearing in the soup (and makes it super fragrant)
  • Salt fish very lightly if you’d like.  For this version, I actually didn’t salt at all!  It turned out amazing and people can add salt afterwards as they like. 
Cooking Instructions
  1. .Start boiling your soup water in a soup pot on high heat
  2. Wash, clean, and pat dry your fish
  3. In a shallow pan, add in a tablespoon of oil, 8 ginger slices, and a bunch of largely sliced green onions on medium-high heat.  Let that brown a bit.
  4. Throw in your fish, browning as much of it as you can.  It doesn’t need to be fully cooked, just crisp the edges and meat on all sides.  Once done, you can turn off the heat.
  5. Once your soup water boils, add in the fried fish along with the dried longans and dried scallops.
  6. Reduce that to a medium boil
  7. You can now peel and cut the potatoes into giant chunks
  8. In a shallow pan on medium-high heat, add a tablespoon of oil and brown all the sides of the potatoes, as crispy as you can get.  This crust will keep the potatoes in tack as it boils and softens.
  9. Once that browns, throw it into your soup.
  10. Cut up the tomatoes into large quarters and drop that into your soup as well
  11. You can then prepare the abalone and drop into your soup.
  12. Reduce to a low boil for about 2-3 hours.  I did 3 hours for this.
  13. By now, you should have a beautiful milky broth.  Throw in scallions for taste.
  14. Serve and enjoy!

My kids loved this soup!  It’s something they grew up with and eat the potatoes as part of the soup.

I normally don’t keep fish soup overnight, but somehow I wanted to save some for the day after and when I went back to reheat it, the soup was congealed!!  It was amazing!  This means that the collagen (and there’s a lot) has hardened and simply gently reheat and enjoy again!

For those who love eating fish heads, I also didn’t use a soup bag as the grass carp head was pretty large.  A lot of the meat does stay in tack and have separated from the bones, so you can “fish” for them at the bottom of the soup with a scooper!  Enjoy!!

 

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Heat Clearing Sugarcane and Water Chestnuts and Imperatae Root Herbal Tea

Heat Clearing Sugarcane and Water Chestnuts and Imperatae Root Herbal Tea

Heat Clearing Sugarcane and Water Chestnuts and Imperatae Root Herbal Tea

Soup Name:

Heat clearing sugarcane and water chestnuts and imperatae root herbal tea

Traditional Chinese Name:

竹蔗茅根馬蹄湯 (zhú zhè máogēn mǎtí tāng)

 

For videos, visit us on YouTube. 

A traditional Chinese drink which helps cool the body, reduce heatiness, and clear phlegm and unwanted body fluids. It’s natural sweetness is perfect for hot summer days and this can be drank cold or hot. It is commonly found as a drink in most herbal dessert shops and is even bottled commercially.

The key to this heat clearing tea is the water chestnuts.  I don’t use them often as this version also uses corn, carrots, or corn silk, but I’ve kept it simple for heat clearing only.  The water chestnuts are a very cooling ingredient and combined with the imperatae (or mao gen) root, is extra potent to clear excess yang.  

What’s involved?

Prep time: 10 mins

Cook time: 30 minutes

Total time: 40 mins

Serves: 6 bowls

Ingredients

 

Cooking Instructions

  1. Prepare your sugar cane by chopping into smaller 2-inch length pieces
  2. Rinse, peel and rinse the water chestnuts.  You can cut into bite-sized edible pieces if you also like eating them.  
  3. Add to cold water into your soup pot
  4. Boil on medium heat covered for 30 minutes
  5. 5 minutes before serving, drop in your rock sugar.
  6. Serve and enjoy!

Any benefits?

  • This is a great tea for BBQ’ing or hotpot as it’s cooling and removes heat from the body, especially the stomach
  • It can served as a tea or soup
  • It is vegetarian, so perfect for any soup or tea drinker
  • This can be drank cold or hot (you’ll often find this as a heated drink served in the streets of Hong Kong)
  • You can make a big pot and store in the fridge for one week.  Just be sure to let it sit to room temperature or heat up before consumption
  • You can have a few variations of this soup or tea depending on ingredients at home (such as adding sugared dried winter melon, water chestnuts, or simply using sugar cane and imperatae)

For videos, visit us on YouTube. 

Fresh water chestnuts are crispy, firm, and high in water content.  They don’t have the best storage life, so keep them in the fridge as much as you can.  As the water chestnuts “age”, they’ll breakdown and become starchy, have a crumbly texture, and lose it’s moisture content.  Which in turn, makes your soup or tea cloudy, which is still OK, as long as the water chestnuts still hold some of their firmness. 

For other variations of this tea:

Sugar Cane and Imperatae Drink

 

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Sugar Cane and Imperatae Drink

Sugar Cane and Imperatae Drink

Sugar Cane and Imperatae Drink

Soup Name:

Sugar Cane and Imperatae Drink

Traditional Chinese Name:

竹蔗茅根 (zhú zhè máogēn)

 

For videos, visit us on YouTube. 

A traditional Chinese drink which helps cool the body and reduce heatiness. It’s natural sweetness is perfect for hot summer days and this can be drank cold or hot. It is commonly found as a drink in most herbal dessert shops and is even bottled commercially.

There are a few options for this tea such as adding sugared dried winter melon and corn silk or baby corn.  The key ingredient is the imperatae, which is grass type plant that is cooling and sweet.  It targets the stomach, lungs, and bladder and supports heat removal, or excess of Yang qi in the body.

What’s involved?

Prep time: 10 mins

Cook time: 60 minutes

Total time: 70 mins

Serves: 6 bowls

Ingredients

 

Cooking Instructions

  1. Begin boiling your soup water
  2. Begin boiling another pot of water to blanch Imperatae
  3. Cut carrots, corn, water chestnuts and sugar cane
  4. When second water boils, blanch Imperatae
  5. When soup water boils, add all ingredients together
  6. Boil on medium heat for a good 1 hour
  7. Serve and enjoy!

Any benefits?

  • This is a great tea for BBQ’ing or hotpot as it’s cooling and removes heat from the body, especially the stomach
  • It can served as a tea or soup
  • It is vegetarian, so perfect for any soup or tea drinker
  • This can be drank cold or hot (you’ll often find this as a heated drink served in the streets of Hong Kong)
  • You can make a big pot and store in the fridge for one week.  Just be sure to let it sit to room temperature or heat up before consumption
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For videos, visit us on YouTube. 

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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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Chicken Wintermelon Soup for Summer!

Chicken Wintermelon Soup for Summer!

Chicken Wintermelon Soup for Summer!

Soup Name

Chicken Wintermelon Soup for Summer!

Traditional Chinese Name:  

冬瓜雞湯 (dōng guā jī tāng)

 

For more videos, visit us on YouTube.

Here is a variation on the wintermelon soup using chicken as the protein instead of pork.  It’s slightly cooling, helping to repair your yin energy and release heat from the body. 

I used a new root that I normally don’t put into this soup, which is the Japanese gobo root.  It’s has earthy, dark, and rich tones, so only use 3-4 pieces of it.  Add in your Chinese herbal base of dried red dates, dried longans, dried scallops, and dried goji berries to lighten it up and you’ve got yourself a beautiful summer soup for the whole family!

 

 

What’s involved?

Prep time: 30 mins

Cook time: 30 mins on stove + 4 hours in thermal pot

Total time: 5 hours 

Serves: 8-10 bowls

Ingredients

Cooking Instructions

  1. Boil 1 separate pot of water to blanch your protein
  2. You can also begin to boil your pot of soup water in the thermal pot with the 3L of cold water
  3. Prepare your chicken any way you’d like.  I tend to quarter it and reserve the breast for another meal, using only the legs and bones.
  4. In your blanching pot, drop in the chicken bones and meat into the boiling water and blanch for 5-6 minutes, or until the water re-boils.
  5. Slice the wintermelon into large pieces, keeping the skin on.
  6. Using gloves, peel the Chinese (or Japanese) Yam and cut into large 2-inch thick pieces
  7. Cut the gobo root into 2 inch long pieces, keeping the skin on
  8. When your soup water boils, transfer the meat, add in the dried herbal ingredients, and all the roots and wintermelon
  9. Boil on high for 30 minutes
  10. Transfer for a thermal pot for another 4 hours to let it finish cooking
  11. Serve and enjoy!

For more videos, visit us on YouTube.

 

 

 

Chef tips:

  • Keep the skin on the wintermelon to prevent it from disintegrating into the soup
  • Use gloves when handling the Chinese or Japanese Yam root as it is slippery and can make your hands itchy
  • When using a whole chicken, you can save either the breasts or legs for another meal and use only the bones
  • Use a thermal pot to conserve energy and make the technology work for you!