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!  

 

Quick Boil Winter Melon, Mushrooms with Corn in Chicken Broth

Quick Boil Winter Melon, Mushrooms with Corn in Chicken Broth

Quick Boil Winter Melon, Mushrooms with Corn in Chicken Broth

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 ao tāng)

Nature of soup:  Slightly cooling (primarily from the winter melon)

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!

    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!

      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!

        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.  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!

          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.  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.

            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.

              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. Serve and enjoy! Don’t forget to scoop out the delicious ingredients to eat as part of your hearty soup.

                Ingredients

                • 2 medium-sized chicken breasts, bite-sized cubed
                • 1 x 2-inch thick slice of winter melon, skinned and bite-sized cubed
                • 2 fresh corn, quartered
                • 7-8 dried Chinese mushrooms, sliced thinly
                • 5 pieces of dried conpoy
                • 1 teaspoon of powdered chicken bouillon
                • 3 L of water

                Cooking 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!

                For video on “7 Basic Chinese Soup Pantry Ingredients”, visit us on YouTube.

                Here are some examples of other soups using winter melon:

                Have you seen those whole winter melons that are carried out and the soup’s inside?  Well, here it is!  Make your very own double-boiled whole winter melon soup! 

                  I love a good fusion soup once in awhile and this winter melon parma ham mix is delicious!  It eats like a meal!  

                    Winter melon is also a great ingredient for teas!  This cooling tea is perfect for clearing the heaty body and relieving excess yang.

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                      Winter Melon and Beef and Fish Balls Soup

                       

                      Another simple soup with a few ingredients you can pick up at your local grocery or wet mart. The winter melon is usually more readily available during the warmer months in HK, but beef and fish balls are in season all the time (yah, in the frozen section of your friendly supermarket). Use the simplest balls, that being beef and fish balls without any surprises on the inside (Taiwanese styled fish balls usually have exploding surprises, so avoid these). The flavors of the balls (mainly salt and whatever other marinades they use) will seep out and make your soup tasty, so don’t add salt unless you’ve tried it first. You can make this soup in about thirty minutes by simply throwing all the ingredients together. In this case, I separated the peel from the flesh so that the melon could soften quicker. In “old fire” wintermelon soups, I will keep the peel attached – but this is really up to personal preference.

                      Soup Name: Winter Melon and Beef and Fish Balls Soup

                      Traditional Chinese Name:  冬瓜湯 (dōng guā tāng)

                       

                      Winter Melon and Beef and Fish Balls Soup
                      Recipe Type: Soup
                      Cuisine: Chinese Soup
                      Author: LadyTong
                      Prep time:
                      Cook time:
                      Total time:
                      Serves: 6-8
                      Ingredients
                      • 1 large slice of [url href=”http://www.thechinesesouplady.com/winter-melon/”]winter melon[/url], sliced with skin off (but the peel is also boiled as part of the soup)
                      • 10 precooked beef balls
                      • 10 precooked fish balls
                      • 2 L of water
                      Instructions
                      1. Start boiling your soup water
                      2. Wash the winter melon skin and then peel the skin off the winter melon and cube the remaining winter melon flesh
                      3. Rinse the beef and fish balls in warm water
                      4. When the water boils, throw all the ingredients together
                      5. Boil on high for 30 minutes
                      6. Serve and enjoy!
                      Notes
                      [b]Any benefits?[/b][br][br]Excellent soup for children, especially during the heaty months[br]Winter melons are known to remove heatiness and helps detoxify the body[br]It is ideal in removing phelgm from the lungs[br]It is also particularly effective in regulating blood sugar levels[br][br][b]Any precautions?[/b][br][br]Like most melons, they will sour the soup the longer you keep it, so try to consume all of it in one day[br]Since it is a cooling food, it should be carefully consumed if pregnant (less than 3 months into term) or menstruating (can cause contractions)

                       

                      Baby Corn and Winter Melon Drink

                      Baby Corn and Winter Melon Drink

                      Baby Corn and Winter Melon Drink

                      Soup Name:

                      Baby Corn and Winter Melon Drink

                      Traditional Chinese Name:

                      玉米筍糖冬瓜水 (yù mǐ sǔn táng dōng guā shuǐ)

                       

                      For videos, visit us on YouTube. 

                      An easy to make sweet drink that can be served both hot and cold.  Tasting mildly of corn and winter melon, it’s a great drink for hot summer days and is ideal in relieving heatiness in the body.

                      This drink is cooling and perfect for hot summer days or helping the body dispel excess heat (or yang).

                       

                      What’s involved?

                      4Prep time: 10 mins

                      Cook time: 30 minutes

                      Total time: 70 mins

                      Serves: 6 cups

                      Ingredients

                       

                      Cooking Instructions

                      1. Boil water
                      2. Wash the baby corn and comb through the silk to make sure it’s clean
                      3. When boiling, add all the ingredients together
                      4. Boil on high for 10 minutes and then can put on medium heat for another 20 minutes
                      5. Serve and enjoy!
                      6. Can be served cold (just add ice)!

                      Any benefits?

                      • This is a great tea for BBQ’ing or hotpot as it’s cooling and removes heat from the body
                      • 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
                      • The corn silk is a great addition to help remove dampness and regulate blood sugar.  I’ve used baby corn silk, but you can use mature corn silk as well (the kind that comes with corn!).

                      For videos, visit us on YouTube. 

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