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!  

 

Homemade Do-it-yourself Wontons in a “Cheat” Chicken Broth

Homemade Do-it-yourself Wontons in a “Cheat” Chicken Broth

Homemade Do-it-yourself Wontons in a “Cheat” Chicken Broth

Did you know that wontons literally means “cloud swallow” in Cantonese?  These little delights are like clouds and bite-sized enough to be swallowed in one gulp!

For more videos, visit us on YouTube.

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.

What’s involved?

Prep time: 45 mins

Cook time (broth): 30 mins

Cook time (wontons): 10 mins

Total time: 1 hour 30 mins

Makes: 50 wontons

Equipment needed:

Ingredients (for cheat chicken broth):

  • 500 mL of chicken broth

  • 1 L of cold water
  • 1-2 pieces of star anise
  • 5 dried scallops
  • 5 dried longans
  • 1 whole garlic
  • 1 whole fresh onion
  • 3 shallots
  • 1 leek

Ingredients (for wontons):

  • 500g of ground chicken

  • 6-7 fresh shrimp, deveined and diced

  • 20 bunches of fresh chives, diced

  • 3 bunches of fresh green onions, diced

  • 1 tablespoon diced garlic

  • 1 teaspoon of fish sauce

  • 1 tablespoon of oyster sauce

  • 1 tablespoon of soy sauce

  • 1 teaspoon of white pepper

  • 1 teaspoon of cooking wine

  • sesame oil to taste

  • 50 wonton skins

Cooking Instructions

  1. Begin to boil your chicken broth in your soup pot
  2. Chop up the soup “cheat”  ingredients and put them all into the soup bag
  3. Add directly to your chicken broth and boil on medium heat for 30 minutes
  4. For the wontons, mix in ground chicken, diced shrimp and all the seasoning together
  5. Chop up the chives and fresh green onions and add them in
  6. Mix well together until the meat creates strands (it should be pretty sticky)
  7. 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)
  8. Wrap them all as to ensure the wonton skins don’t dry out
  9. Remove the soup bag from your soup, ensuring there’s nothing remaining in the soup
  10. Add in 10-15 wontons.  This should bring the soup down from a boil.  
  11. 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.
  12. Once it begins to boil the 3rd time around.  Strain out, scoop some soup, garnish and serve!

For more videos, visit us on YouTube.

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Chinese Winter Melon and Parma Ham Stew

Chinese Winter Melon and Parma Ham Stew

Chinese Winter Melon and Parma Ham Stew

Soup Name

Chinese Winter melon and Ham Stew

Traditional Chinese Name:  

 

For more videos, visit us on YouTube.

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).

What’s involved?

Prep time: 15 mins

Cook time: 45 mins

Total time: 1 hour

Serves: 4-5 people

Ingredients

  • 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

Cooking Instructions

  1. Start by soaking the Chinese mushrooms in room temperature water for about an hour to soften them
  2. 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…
  3. The go about removing the ends of the mushrooms.  A sharp knife or kitchen scissors will do the job!
  4. 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.
  5. Drop in the gingko bilobas and also fry for 3 minutes
  6. Then you extract the Parma Ham and just place it on top of the other ingredients and stir slightly
  7. Add in 2 cups of boiling water and a sprinkling of Chinese preserved vegetables and mix it altogether
  8. 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

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Vietnamese Sour Fish Soup

Vietnamese Sour Fish Soup

Vietnamese Sour Fish Soup

I love soups. I particularly do love sour soups as an appetizer because they really bring out my appetite! I know sour soups aren’t for all taste buds, but here’s a simple one you can make at home with fresh ingredients. You can always adjust the sourness (and even the spicyness) as desired. I came across this type of soup one day at a Vietnamese restaurant and loved it! So I googled it and then kind of tweaked it to my own tastes. To be honest, I don’t always follow soup recipes that I find. I love the fact that I can create, twist, tweak, add, remove, and flavour it with my personality – so this is my interpretation of it!

Soup Name:

Vietnamese Sour Fish Soup (Canh Chua Ca)

Taste:  Sweet and sour

Nature:  Slightly cooling, can add more ginger to warm it up

 

For soup and recipe videos, visit us on YouTube.

To start, you’ll need fresh fish heads. To be honest, you can use any type of bigger fish, such as salmon, tuna, big head fish, or bass. I just go to my local wet mart and pick up some “big head” fish, which is at like $15 HKD a head, which is cheap! If you’d like more protein, you can buy the fish tail as well. Don’t forget to use a fish bag in the soup. This will help keep the fish bones together as it disintegrates in the soup.  I’ve found a few good ones on amazon that are durable and affordable.  And if you have the patience, you can wash and reuse.

You’ll also need some fresh ingredients such as fresh parsley, okra, bean sprouts, garlic, ginger, shallots, green onions, lemongrass, tomatoes, celery, and fish sauce. In some recipes you’ll also find Vietnamese taro stems (which aren’t easy to find, so you can replace this with celery).

To make your fish heads super fragrant for the soup, use your soup pot (empty) and add in a dollop of oil (any type) and pan fry on medium head the diced garlic, ginger slices, sliced green onions, tamarind, sliced lemongrass, and diced shallots and fry until fragrant. Add in your clean fish parts and fry until the skin is a golden brown. When sufficiently yummy, you can throw everything into a thin mesh soup bag and set aside (optional).

Because I do sometimes get lazy and know that the kids aren’t likely going to fight me to drink this soup, I didn’t use a fish bag and just added water at this time until the pot is 3/4 full.

After you bring the soup to a boil, turn to medium heat and add in the tomatoes, celery (or taro stems), okra, and pineapples and continue to boil. Boil on medium for another 15 minutes or until the fish is completely cooked and the vegetables have softened. You can almost consider this a quick boil soup.

Taste the soup and add fish sauce as desired to increase the saltiness. This is when you can add the bean sprouts because they pretty much flash cook. Then serve immediately with parsley (and little spicy peppers, too) and enjoy! Be sure to scoop out all the goodies inside. Serve with rice or noodles! I love the colours of this soup – but more importantly, the flavours!! I do add more tamarind because I love sour stuff! Did I say that already? Haha… the best, are Costco giant sour keys….
What’s involved?
Prep time: 30 mins

Cook time: 30 mins on medium heat

Total time: 1 hour

Serves: 6 bowls

Ingredients
  • 2 large fish heads, halved (or use fish tails)
  • 2-3 stalks of celery (or Vietnamese taro stem), chopped
  • 2 tomatoes, quartered
  • 1 cup of pineapple chunks (canned is OK)
  • 1 cup of bean sprouts
  • 1 cup of okra, chopped
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • 5 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 3 slices of fresh ginger
  • 2-3 stalks of fresh green onions, diced
  • 2-3 stalks of fresh lemon grass, chopped
  • fresh parsley
  • 2 tbsp of tamarind
  • fish sauce, to taste
  • 3L of water
Cooking Instructions
  1. In your soup pot, add a tablespoon of oil and fry the shallots, garlic, ginger, fresh green onions, and fresh lemon grass.
  2. When fragrant, throw in clean fish parts and pan fry until the skin is golden and crispy.
  3. Fill the pot to 3/4 full (or about 3L worth of water)
  4. Bring to a boil and turn to medium head, scooping out any oil or foam on top.
  5. Throw in tomatoes, pineapples, celery (or taro stems), and okra and let simmer for 15 minutes until the fish is completely cooked or the vegetables are soft.
  6. Taste soup and add fish sauce as needed.
  7. Add bean sprouts to boil for 1-2 minutes and serve. Garnish with fresh parsley.

EQUIPMENT USED

To answer your questions on what equipment I'm using, I've built a section here where you can find and explore what I'm using to make soups.  Ingredients are a little harder, but I will do my best as I source them around.  However, you can always message me on Instagram, TikTok, YouTube, or Facebook, and I will reply and try to point you in some direction!  

A great help for fish or small bones in soups, including small ingredients such as barley, fox nuts, spices just to keep everything together.

A MUST HAVE in the kitchen!  Energy saving, cost effective, and perfect for busy chefs!  Check out my article here that explains it.

Another MUST HAVE in the kitchen for soups!  It's so fine that it will scoop off the top oil and foam layer when using meats in your soup!

I use these types of stove top safe tea pots to make most of my herbal teas!

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Fresh Crab Congee

Fresh Crab Congee

Fresh Crab Congee

Soup Name

Fresh Crab Congee

Traditional Chinese Name:  

蟹粥 (xiè zhōu)

 

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.

What’s involved?

Prep time: 15 mins

Cook time: 40 mins

Total time: 55 mins

Serves: 6 bowls

Ingredients

  • 2 cups of white rice

  • 10 cups of water (to start)

  • 6-7 dried scallops or conpoys

  • 7-8 slices of fresh chicken strips

  • 2 fresh female crabs, prepared and quartered

  • 1 tablespoon of preserved Chinese vegetables

  • fresh spring onions

Cooking Instructions

  1. Prepare the crab (see my post on fresh crab on preparation), cut into quarters and set aside
  2. Prepare the fresh chicken by cutting in thin strips
  3. Begin to boil your water and throw in the rice using high heat
  4. Stir every once in awhile to ensure that the congee doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pot
  5. When the water boils, add in chicken strips, dried scallops (or conpoys)
  6. When the water boils again, throw in the prepared crab
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. Add in the preserved Chinese vegetables and mix again.
  10. Let it boil for another 5 minutes.
  11. 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.

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        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

        Ingredients

          • 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.