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!

 

 

Sweet Chinese Almond Dessert Soup

Sweet Chinese Almond Dessert Soup

Sweet Chinese Almond Dessert Soup

This classic traditional Chinese dessert has been enjoyed throughout generations (even when I was little and when my parents were little). Common in most dessert houses and even served as dessert at the end of Cantonese meals, this almond packed dessert is smooth, slightly sweet, creamy and absolutely healthy! Almonds are known to reduce risk of heart problems and lowers LDL-cholesterol (the bad kind!). Actually, nuts.com has a very comprehensive review of the benefits of almonds. I need to think of more ways to incorporate almonds into my diet! For the Chinese, they say that this soup helps smooth the skin and keep it silky and white.

Almonds are a very common ingredient found in both Chinese soups, desserts, foods – especially the South and North kinds that are commonly used in soups. For this one, I went with western almonds bought in a supermarket already peeled. This sweet soup was far easier to make than I thought and can be consumed both warm or cold.

Soup Name

Sweet Chinese Almond Dessert Soup

Traditional Chinese Name:  

杏仁茶 (xìng rén chá)

For the whole recipe and to skip my commentary, scroll down.

To start, all you need is: raw almonds, rock sugar, raw rice, water and egg whites. What? That’s it? Haha… yes.

What’s involved?

Prep time: 10 mins
Cook time: 15 mins
Total time: 25 mins
Serves: 4 bowls

Ingredients

  • 200 g of raw almonds
  • 800 mL of water
  • 30 g of white rice
  • 40 g of rock sugar
  • 1 egg white

Cooking Instructions

  1. Soak your almonds in cool water for 4-5 hours to soften
  2. Drain water and in a blender, add about 600 mL of cool water, the almonds and 30 g of white rice
  3. Blend until smooth or very fine (liquefied as much as possible) – you can add more water to bring the level up to 800 mL at this point (or just start with 800 mL of water)
  4. Strain the liquid through a fine mesh bag into a pot
  5. Bring to a medium boil and boil for 10 minutes, while continuously stirring – you can throw in the rock sugar as it comes to boil and ensure it completely dissolves
  6. Add in an egg white and continuously stir for another 5 minutes
  7. Serve and enjoy!

Start soaking your almonds in cool water for about 3-4 hours. This will soften them, especially if you still have the skin on them, this will help you peel them so much easier. About 200 g of almonds will make 2 bowls, so what you see here is enough for 4 bowls.

Drain the water and refill with cool water into the bowl. This water and almonds will be the base of the dessert. I then throw this into a blender with 30g of white rice (I personally will use whatever is in the pantry, which was Thai long grained white rice at the time). Do note that I actually add more water later to make 800 mL worth total. This will significantly reduce when you strain the almonds through a fine mesh.

It takes a bit of grinding, but do work to grind as much and as fine as you can the almond mixture.  Here, you can see that it’s not yet quite as fine as it could be, so it took a bit of maneuvering up and down and sideways to get as much of the bulk to the bottom to grind further. Helps work your forearms and biceps. Keep going!

When you hear the blend spin pretty consistently and you can move the blender around, the mixture should be fine enough to strain and cook. It’s so beautiful that it almost looks like snow!

Push it ALL through a very fine mesh bag. This will separate the almond milk dessert from the grains. Some people like a little bit of the grainy parts, so add that if you’d like to your dessert. It’s completely up to you!

 

You should now have a very smooth, creamy almond milk-like liquid. Turn on the heat to a medium heat and bring the almond milk to a slow boil for about 10 minutes, continuously stirring the mixture.

Once it boils, add in the rock sugar. I used about 40 g, which isn’t too sweet – just perfect. Adjust accordingly depending on your taste. Don’t forget to continuously stir as well and boil for another 5 minutes or until the rock sugar dissolves completely. As tradition calls, slowly stream in 1 egg white while stirring to ensure consistency and then turn off heat and serve!

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Snow Pear and Dragon’s Eye Sweet Dessert Soup

Snow Pear and Dragon’s Eye Sweet Dessert Soup

Snow Pear and Dragon’s Eye Sweet Dessert Soup

Soup Name:

Snow Pear and Dragon’s Eye Sweet Dessert Soup

One day, in the thick of a winter evening, when all the children lay sleeping, I suddenly had this urge for something sweet, crunchy and hot.  No panic.  Taking a peek in the fridge, I found one giant snow pear staring at me. Perfect. This is how simple this dessert soup is and a majority of the other ingredients are primarily pantry items with a billion years shelf-life.  I personally love food with layers of texture and flavour and after twenty minutes, I was in bliss.

What’s involved?

Prep time: 10 mins

Cook time: 15 mins

Total time: 25 mins

Serves: 4 bowls

Ingredients

  • 1 giant fresh snow pear (preferably the type with dark brown / orange skin), chunked
  • 1 tablespoon of dried longans (or dried dragon eyes)
  • 1 tablespoon of dried wolfberries
  • 1 1-inch diameter chunk of golden rock sugar
  • 1.5 L of water

Cooking Instructions

  1. Boil you soup water
  2. Cut up the snow pear into edible bite-sizes
  3. When the water boils, throw all the ingredients together
  4. Boil on high heat for 15 minutes
  5. Serve and enjoy hot!

The ingredients for the soup are:  1 large snow pear (preferably the sweeter kind with a thick, orange-brown skin), some dried longans (or dragon eyes), dried wolfberries, and rock sugar (adjusted to exactly the way you want).  I tend to use less sweet versions, so adjust accordingly!

The great thing about these massive Korean snow pears is that they produce a lot of fruit flesh.  Look at the giant mound of fruit!

The ingredients for the soup are:  1 large snow pear (preferably the sweeter kind with a thick, orange-brown skin), some dried longans (or dragon eyes), dried wolfberries, and rock sugar (adjusted to exactly the way you want).  I tend to use less sweet versions, so adjust accordingly!

The great thing about these massive Korean snow pears is that they produce a lot of fruit flesh.  Look at the giant mound of fruit!

 Boil on high heat for 15 minutes (or to the desired crunchiness of your snow pears) and adjust the sweetness as well. I prefer it less sweet, but depends on your sweet tooth.

Serve piping hot and enjoy!

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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

Quick Boil Winter Melon, Mushrooms with Corn in Chicken Broth

Quick Boil Winter Melon Soup

Quick Boil Winter Melon Soup

 

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!

Chinese mushrooms ready for soup!

Mushrooms soaking in prep for quick boil 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.

Winter Melon

Winter Melon

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

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

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

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

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

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 soup

 

Quick Boil Winter Melon, Mushrooms with Corn in Chicken Broth
Recipe Type: Soup
Cuisine: Chinese
Author: LadyTong
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 4 bowls
Ingredients
  • 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
  • 2 fresh [url href=”http://www.thechinesesouplady.com/corn/” title=”Fresh corn”]corn[/url], quartered
  • 7-8 dried [url href=”http://www.thechinesesouplady.com/chinese-mushrooms/” title=”dried Chinese mushrooms”]Chinese mushrooms[/url], sliced thinly
  • 5 pieces of [url href=”http://www.thechinesesouplady.com/scallops-dried-conpoy/” title=”Dried conpoy”]dried conpoy[/url]
  • 1 teaspoon of powdered chicken bouillon
  • 3 L of water
Instructions
  1. Being by soaking Chinese mushrooms in warm water for 5 minutes
  2. Start to boil your soup water
  3. Cube chicken breast
  4. Slice and cube winter melon – don’t throw away the skin (use it in the soup)
  5. Quarter corn
  6. Drain mushrooms and remove the stems with a knife of scissors and slice thinly
  7. When your soup water boils, throw all your cut ingredients into the soup (add the bouillon last)
  8. Boil on high for 5 minutes
  9. Reduce boil to a medium-boil for another 20 minutes
  10. Taste and add chicken bouillon (try 1 teaspoon first)
  11. Boil for another 5 minutes
  12. Serve and enjoy!

 

I personally love winter melon, especially when it’s softened and melts in your mouth! A great quick boil soup for any newbie or professional soup chef. Enjoy and thank you!