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’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.

To start, 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.

Soaking dried Chinese mushrooms

Soaking dried Chinese mushrooms

Soaking dried shrimp and conpoys

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

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

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

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 shirmp

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

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

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

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

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!

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

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!

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
Author: LadyTong
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 8 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
  • 1 tablespoon of dried shrimps
  • 10 small dried Chinese mushrooms
  • 5 fresh straw mushrooms
  • salt
  • oil
  • cornstarch
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!

 

 

Double-boiled Apple and Pear Chinese Herbal Soup

Double-boiled Apple and Pear Chinese Herbal Soup

Double-boiled Apple and Snow Pear Chinese Soup

Double-boiled Apple and Snow Pear Chinese Soup

My second project using the new double-boiler! I found a very simple, but delicious apple and pear Chinese soup with pork and chicken and Chinese herbs.  This is a pretty traditional Chinese soup and can be made both with or without double-boiling. The purpose of double-boiling is really to maintain density of the flavours and lock in (better than regular boiling) all that goodness. I’d almost argue that using a thermal pot is similar to double-boiling.  Double-boiled soups are normally made in the winter because they can be more potent and provide extra punch and warmth.  This soup is awesomely yummy! It is designed to help soothe and moisten the throat and lungs. Most Chinese double-boiled soups use both chicken and pork. Even if you use a silkie chicken, the Chinese will throw in a small piece of pork shank. This makes the soup very sweet and rich in flavours.

Soup Name:  Double-boiled Apple and Pear Chinese Herbal Soup

Traditional Chinese Soup Name: 蘋果雪梨燉雞湯 (píng guǒ xuě lí dùn jī tāng)

To see the full recipe, scroll down to skip my commentary.

For this recipe, you’ll need: A bunch of Chinese herbs (in mine, I have dried dates, dried longans, dried conpoys or scallops, dried Chinese yam, and wolfberries), some pork, a whole chicken, fuji apples, and snow pears.

To start, soak you herbs in warm water to soften. You can also scrub the Chinese Yam in running water before soaking to rinse off the sulphur that is sometimes used to process it.  I just eyeball the amount of each herbs depending on the size of the pot, so it’s literally a handful of this and handful of that.

Soaking herbs ready for soup

Soaking herbs ready for soup

Prepare your meats by removing as much fat as possible. This means, going with lean pork shank and removing all the skin and fat from the chicken. I tried to get as small as a chicken as possible because my pot isn’t that big – in a previous post, I used chicken drumsticks – which work perfectly because of their size, portions and you get both bone and meat. In a separate pot, blanch the meats in boiling hot water for 5 minutes to remove scum, oil, dirt, blood and any extras that like to make their way out of the bones and meat and into your soup.  Once blanched, remove the meat from the soup and set aside to cool and to add to your soup later.

My overly ambitious portions of meat

My overly ambitious portions of meat – a mix of pork and chicken

Keep the skin on the apples and snow pears.  Firstly, this will help keep them intact and not disintegrate too much into the soup and secondly, it will help you scoop it out when you need to. Plus, the skin has its own unique flavour too – just be sure to rinse really well!

Start boiling your double-boiler (inner pot) outside on the stove with half the volume of water that the container will hold. It’s easier to add more water later if you need to top up. When the water more or less boils, throw all the ingredients into the pot. In my case, I can say OOPS! I was still missing one snow pear and 1 apple and ended up removing the ends of the drumsticks to make it all squeeze in. See, it’s all sticking out!

Adding all the ingredients into the double-boiler

Adding all the ingredients into the double-boiler

Double-boil for 30 minutes first

Double-boil for 30 minutes first

Cover (if you can) and set to let it boil on medium heat for about 30 minutes. Do note that snow pears actually RELEASE more water as it boils, so the risk that it spills over is almost certain!

My double-boiled soup now overspilling!

My double-boiled soup now overspilling!

After 30 minutes of medium boil, turn off the heat and let the pot cool. Once it cools sufficiently for you to put into its outer double-boiler, add the inner pot into the larger outer pot. You can add water later – but when you add water to the outer pot – add hot water! This will reduce the temperature flux of your inner pot.  Fill it with enough water so that you can cover the inner double-boiler and this outer pot water won’t spill into the double-boiler. Cover and set on a low boil (you can still see small bubbles) for about 3 hours.

The double-boiler inside an outer pot

The double-boiler inside an outer pot

You’ll know your soup is progressing well when you see the pears and apples and colour of the soup turn into a rich golden liquid. Most double-boiled soups some in this golden colour and you’ll know that the flavours are intense and rich.

Rich soup colour of the double-boiled soup when it's almost ready

Rich soup colour of the double-boiled soup when it’s almost ready

Once your soup is ready, scoop out whatever you’d like and serve HOT! NO SALT NEEDED! That’s how sweet it is! Some people will like to eat the meats, dipped on soy sauce – by all means, do it! The meat is delicious as well. In my situation, I had leftover fruit, so I simply drank 2 bowls the size of rice bowls, threw in the rest of the fruit and added some more water and continued to double-boil it for another hour until dinner. Enjoy! I certainly did!

Double-boiled Apple and Pear Chinese Soup

Double-boiled Apple and Pear Chinese Soup

 

Double-boiled Apple and Pear Chinese Herbal Soup
Recipe Type: Soup
Cuisine: Chinese
Author: LadyTong
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 6 soup bowls
Ingredients
  • 1 whole fresh [url href=”http://www.thechinesesouplady.com/chicken-whole/”]chicken[/url], cut small (skin removed)
  • 1/2 pound of fresh [url href=”http://www.thechinesesouplady.com/pork-shank/”]pork shank[/url], cut small
  • 1 tablespoon of [url href=”http://www.thechinesesouplady.com/scallops-dried-conpoy/”]dried conpoy[/url]
  • 1 tablespoon of [url href=”http://www.thechinesesouplady.com/wolfberries-dried/”]dried wolfberries[/url]
  • 1 tablespoon of [url href=”http://www.thechinesesouplady.com/longan-dried/”]dried longans[/url]
  • 1 tablespoon of [url href=”http://www.thechinesesouplady.com/red-dates/”]dried red dates[/url]
  • 3 pieces of [url href=”http://www.thechinesesouplady.com/chinese-yam-dried/”]dried Chinese Yam[/url]
  • 2 [url href=”http://www.thechinesesouplady.com/fuji-apples-2/”]fuji apples[/url], largely cubed (with skin)
  • 2 fresh [url href=”http://www.thechinesesouplady.com/snow-pears/”]snow pears[/url], largely cubed (with skin)
  • 3 L of water (or whatever your volume of double-boiler is)
Instructions
  1. Soak all the Chinese herbs in warm water. You can rinse the dried Chinese yams under running water and rub them to remove any sulphur from the drying process.
  2. Prepare the meat by cutting in to large bite-size, removing all skin and fat.
  3. In a separate pot of boiling water, blanch all the meat in the boiling water for 5 minutes. Set aside when finished.
  4. Cut, core, remove seeds and cut the apples and pears into large bite-sizes, keeping on the skin.
  5. Boil you soup water at half capacity in the double-boiler.
  6. When the water boils, add all the ingredients into it and top up with hot water (or boiling water from a kettle).
  7. Boil on medium heat for 30 minutes.
  8. Turn off heat and set to cool enough that you can move the pot into the outer double-boiler pot.
  9. Put inner pot into outer pot and fill with enough water to cover up to at least 3/4 of the inner pot.
  10. Boil on low heat (minimal bubbles) for 3 hours.
  11. Serve and enjoy – soup stuff included!

 

 

Chinese Red Bean Soup Dessert

Chinese Red Bean Soup Dessert

Soup Name: Chinese Red Bean Soup Dessert, Chinese Red Bean Soup, Red Bean Dessert, Red Bean Soup

Traditional Chinese Name:  紅豆沙 (hǒng dòu shā)

Introduction:
This is a traditional Chinese dessert and a popular dish among the Chinese. It can be eaten any day of the year, but does have special meaning during Chinese New Year’s (because of the red, added with glutinous rice balls filled with sweet black sesame!). This dessert can be served hot or cold and will vary in its content depending on the chef. The basic recipes really just calls for red beans, water and sugar, but many people will also add lotus seeds, black rice, glutinous rice balls and varying other ingredients to make it more rich and wholesome. Some people also will freeze the leftover dessert and make popsicles with them (Hong Kong actually carries this as a commercial dessert in super markets!).

 

Amount serves: 4 servings in 250mL bowls

 

What Ingredients are required?

200 g of dried red/azuki beans
30 g of dried lily blubs
50 g of dried lotus seeds
80 g of rock sugar
1 slice of dried tangerine peel
2-3 glutinous rice balls (per person) (optional)

2 L of water

How do I prepare it?

  1. Soak the red beans in warm water for about 2 hours prior to cooking (this will soften them more)
  2. Soak the tangerine peel for 20 minutes (or until soft). Using a butter knife, scrape off the dark outside skin until all the brown portions have washed off under running water (this will help reduce the bitterness of the soup)
  3. Boil your soup water
  4. When water boils, add everything except the glutinous rice balls
  5. Boil on high heat for 30 minutes
  6. Reduce to a medium boil while covered for another hour (or until all the ingredients have softened to your liking)
  7. Add glutinous rice balls and boil for another 5 minutes
  8. Serve and enjoy!

Any benefits?

  • Low in fat and a very tasty, healthy and protein rich sweet soup
  • It serves as a good dessert base (you can add other ingredients to customize it)
  • There is a good portion of fiber in the soup
  • Excellent source of antioxidants, magnesium, iron, potassium and zinc

Any precautions?

  • For those who have gout, consume with caution due to the amount of red beans used
  • Take caution when adding sugar to sweet soups (add less and you can always add more later if needed)
Chinese Red Bean Soup Dessert Ingredients

Chinese Soups for Spring!

It’s almost Spring time! Can’t you feel the warm sun on your face? Can’t you feel gentle wind without that bitter, cold bite?

Spring is a unique season – well, there are only 4 – so that’s pretty unique already.  What makes Spring so different is one key thing (especially in Asia) – humidity.  You can’t run from it – especially if you happen to live on an island in Asia or even South East Asia.  And like all seasons in the Chinese circle of life, there are soups that are targeted for this season to help:

  • reduce moisture in your body
  • remove dampness
  • tone & strengthen Qi & blood
  • relieve heaviness in the head and body

For me, being a western-raised Chinese, the key is removing dampness (all the others aren’t as tangible to me).  I can feel it in my blankets, in my bedsheets, on the walls and especially on my skin.  To remove the “feeling” of dampness in my home, the humidifier is the next great thing after sliced bread in the Spring.  I have 2 of these machines that run around the clock in my house to make sure that both my bedsheets and walls don’t start molding on me – it happens – especially given that I live facing a harbor.   Spring is a great prelude to Summer, so I’m neither a hater nor a lover.  So how do you deal with the dampness that affects the body?  Drink soups – in great quantities.

Over the past 8 years living in Hong Kong, there are the same key soups that my meat, veggie and herbal vendors all tell me to make.  Even the old ladies that I knock elbows with at the market tell me the same thing, and of course, my own mother.  So it’s not coincidence that through generations of knowledge and teaching, the Chinese have narrowed down their soup recommendations for various personal and environment conditions.

There are always KEY ingredients associated with the Spring and you can mix and match the various vegetables and additives as needed for this season.  You can also use a combination of pork, chicken and fish with the proposed “Spring” ingredients for variety.

Some Spring ingredients:

old cucumber – with its diuretic effect, it helps you urinate and release the moisture in your body.

adzuki beans – another natural diuretic, this ingredient can dispel both excess body moisture and heat.  It also helps strengthen the spleen.

black eye beans – similar to adzuki beans in dispelling excess moisture from the body.

lentils – helps to also dispel moisture from the body and a great source of protein.

barley, job’s tears – another natural diuretic and used to promote urination and has mildly cooling properties.

fu ling or tuckahoe – excellent for removing damp-heat (like Spring or wet conditions).

smilax root or toe folk ling – can help remove excess phlegm and dry throat during illness when the seasons change.

watercress – helps clear heatiness, neutralizes toxins, nourishes the lung and dissolve phlegm.

hairy gourd or fuzzy melon – excellent for dispelling summer heat and excess body moisture.

Soup recommendations for the Spring:

Fuzzy Melon with Corn in Pork Bones Soup
Water Chestnuts and Pork Spring Soup
Pork Broth with Black Eye Beans and Black Moss Pork Broth with Black Eye Beans and Black Moss
Old Cucumber with Chinese Yam in Pork Broth
Vegetarian Arrowroot and Corn Soup Vegetarian Arrowroot and Corn Soup
Carrot and Sweet Corn Soup with Barley and Pork Shank
Old Cucumber Soup with Azuki Beans and Lentil
Fish Tail Soup with Lily Bulb and Carrot

Spinach and Water Chestnuts in Chicken Broth

 

This is a variation on a restaurant-styled spinach soup I had at a Chinese restaurant. In their version, the spinach was less dense and more coarse and it was called a “gung” in Cantonese – meaning a thick stew type of soup. I wanted something lighter, healthier for the kids and lighter on the corn starch, so kind of made this up. It turned out to be delicious and the water chestnuts added a refreshing and crunchy texture that I loved! For the vegetarian version, use vegetable broth instead.

 

Soup Name: Spinach and Water Chestnuts in Chicken Broth

Traditional Chinese Name:  菠菜馬蹄雞湯 (bō cài tāng mǎ tí jī tāng)

Spinach and Water Chestnuts in Chicken Broth
Recipe Type: Chinese Soup
Cuisine: Chinese Soup
Author: LadyTong
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 6
Ingredients
  • 3 cloves of fresh garlic, finely diced
  • 1/2 fresh white [url href=”http://www.thechinesesouplady.com/onions-fresh/”]onion[/url], finely chopped
  • 6 bunches of [url href=”http://www.thechinesesouplady.com/spinach/”]fresh spinach[/url], chopped
  • 2 cups of chicken broth
  • 2 cups of water
  • 10 fresh [url href=”http://www.thechinesesouplady.com/water-chestnuts/”]water chestnuts[/url], peeled
Instructions
  1. Finely chop both onions and garlic
  2. In your soup pot, add a teaspoon of cooking oil and fry garlic and onions until the onions are caramelized
  3. Throw in the chopped spinach and cook for another 5 minutes while continuously stirring
  4. Add in chicken broth and water
  5. Boil on medium for another 10 minutes (or until boiling)
  6. Remove from heat and using a hand blender, blend the soup until it runs smooth
  7. In a pot of hot water, boil the peeled water chestnuts for 5 minutes
  8. When ready, remove and finely chop the water chesnuts
  9. Sprinkle the water chestnuts on top of the soup and serve!
Notes
[b]Any Benefits[/b][br]This soup is extremely high in iron, calcium and antioxidants (that help kill free radicals and slow down the sign of aging).[br]It’s suitable for the whole family.[br]It’s an easy and quick soup that you can whip up in less than half an hour.[br][br][b]Any Precautions[/b][br]Be sure to thoroughly wash the Spinach.[br]Not recommended for those with gout to take in large portions as Spinach contributes to gout.

 

Cooked garlic, onions and spinach in preparation for blending