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.
Congee is one of the many comfort foods available within the Chinese cuisine. Nothing is simpler than pork congee and using this recipe as a base, you can actually go pretty far when loading it up with additions or adding different flavours. I use this especially when the children are sick and it’s a great first foods on top of baby cereal and smashed up vegetables.
The ingredients for the soup are: Dried scallops, skinny boneless pork cuts, long-grained rice, salt and water. To start, I usually start with really lean cuts of pork from the butcher and then cut them into large chunks that don’t shrivel up too small in the congee, but are small enough that the flavours come out. You can blanch the pork if you want, but being this thin of a cut, I usually don’t. I will however, salt the pork with about half a teaspoon of salt.
Begin to boil your water with cleaned rice. You can throw in the dried soaked scallops at this time, but the meat usually goes into the water when it boils.
Once the water boils, add in the fresh pork and let it boil on high for about 5 minutes and then reduce to a medium boil for another 20 minutes, stirring occasionally to ensure the bottom doesn’t stick and making sure it doesn’t boil over. At this time, I will transport the pot into my thermal cooker to let it bake some more. I also tend to add more water than normal because I like my congee watery!
The Kiddie Version
For the child with the stomach flu, this is what she got. Plain congee with some Japanese rice flavouring. She lapped it up, 3 bowls in a row. This is also why the extra water helps – get more liquid into her system.
Here’s my upgraded, “souped up”, adult version of the congee. It’s really a fabulous comfort food in that you can add anything like:
pickled vegetables (like radishes, cucumbers)
salted fish (Chinese-styled)
preserved black bean fish (Chinese-styled)
preserved and spicy tofu (foo-yu)
green onions or parsley
and the list goes on and on if you get creative enough
This soup is ideal for colds, flus and cough. If you’ve got a sore or scratchy throat, achy body, tiredness and/or headache – this soup is for you! From an Eastern perspective, the Chinese don’t recommend drinking chicken soup when you’re sick, which to me, sounds off, but you can’t argue thousands years of tradition through Chinese medicine. My herbalist recommended this relatively “neutral” soup for me and is considered 滋陰 (zī yīn), which means treating yin deficiency by reinforcing body fluid and nourishing the blood. If you look at the herb base, it’s pretty basic and ideal for most soups – the kicker is to add sea whelk (or conch or sea snail). You don’t need to add fresh sea snail (they can get pretty expensive if you buy them live from the wet mart), but definitely add pork. This soup ended up tasting delicious and sets a great base for adding vegetables of your choice – like corn, onions, or chayotes – all neutral vegetables.
Prep time: 15 mins
Cook time: 2 hours
Total time: 2 hours 15 mins
Serves: 8 bowls
1 pound of pork shank (or pork marrows and bones for confinement)
In a separate pot, blanch both the sea snails and pork in a pot of boiling hot water for at least 5 minute (to remove impurities, fat and scum), remove and set aside 2. Soak all the herbs in warm water for at least 10 minutes and rinse in warm water 3. Boil your soup water 4. When you soup water boils, add all the ingredients together 5. Boil on high for 30 minute and then reduce boil to a medium boil for another 1.5 hours 6. Serve and enjoy!
One of the more affordable seafood you can use for soups is dried sea snail. They come in thin, hard slices and add a sweet, sea-salt taste to the soup (similar to dried conpoys). Plus, these things are storage friendly and can be stored in your freezer or fridge for up to 6 months.
A typical neutral soup base for Chinese soups. The dried sea snails are interchangeable with dried conpoys, which is a great substitute if you can’t find sea snails. The dried versions produce similar tastes to the soup as they are both seafood and go through similar drying processes.
Traditional Chinese Name: 蒸豬肉餅 (zhēng zhū ròu bǐng)
This is a staple and very common Canton (Chinese-styled) dish. You can create a great base (as outlined below) and then add a variety of ingredients to enhance flavors and textures. I know this recipe is outside of my soup repertoire, but for the sake of confinement, we’re doing a series of recipes to supplement our Confinement story! Use lean pork, go easy on the soy sauce and salt and be sure to load up on the ginger! Variations include adding dried mushrooms, water chestnuts, fried preserved vegetables, mixing ground chicken meat, dried baby shrimp and basically anything you think would spice up the dish. The trick to making this dish with a great flaky texture is to be sure to massage the meat (either with your hands or a fork). I would love to hear your versions for steamed pork patty!
What are the ingredients? Good for 1-2 servings:
100 g of lean ground pork
2 tablespoons of light soy sauce
1 tablespoon of cornstarch (optional)
30 g of sliced ginger
How do I prepare it?
In a bowl, mix lean ground pork, soy sauce and cornstarch. Using either your hands or a fork, massage the meat so that the little white rolled pieces of fat become thin and sticky
Shift the pork thinly on to a low metal dish (no more than 1-inch in thickness)
Spread evenly the ginger on top of the pork patty
Place the dish on a raised pot of boiling water (or steamer)
Steam for about 20-30 minutes (or until pork is thoroughly cooked)
Skim off the top oil and serve hot
This cut and type of cooking is low in fat (as the fat is all seeped out during the cooking process)
This is a good base for additional ingredients if your palate requires something more
Super easy to make and quite hands free once it’s cooking
Great for kids as well, so you can make it for confinement and other family members!
For confinement, do not add any cooling foods (ie: water chestnuts)
Another common ingredient is to use dried salted fish, which I caution as some are high in carcinogenics