Winter melon soup is one of my favorite soups. I find it extremely nourishing and cooling, especially now that I am down with a cold. Winter melon has a very mild taste so it’s hard to make it into a flavorful soup unless you add in extra ingredients. Other than pork ribs, I boil my winter melon soup with a trio of dried seafood: dried scallops, oysters, and shrimp. To rid the potential “fishy” taste in the soup, I add some freshly cracked white peppercorns to spice up the flavor. Another secret ingredient that I always use in Chinese soups is dried honey date or 蜜枣, an inexpensive that lends a subtle and sweet fruity note to soups…
The Cantonese believe that soups are “tonic” and rejuvenating. There is a saying in Cantonese that “women need to take tonic or else they will age fast” (女人不补很易老). I am a firm believer and will share more soup recipes with you here on Rasa Malaysia.
8 cups water
8 oz pork ribs, cut into riblets
1 1/2 lbs winter melon, cut into small pieces, skin removed
2 dried scallops
6 dried oysters
1 tablespoon dried shrimp, soaked in water water for 10 minutes
1 dried honey date
1 teaspoon white peppercorn, lightly pounded with a mortar and pestle or the back of a Chinese cleaver
Salt to taste, optional
Bring the water to boil in a deep pot. Add the pork ribs and boil for 5 minutes before adding the winter melon, dried seafood, peppers, and honey date. Continue to boil on medium heat for 15-20 minutes before lowering the heat to low. Discard the “foam” at the top of the soup. Keep boiling the soup on low heat for about 45 minutes or so or until the soup is full of the sweet flavor of all the ingredients. Add salt to taste. If you like, you might add some more water and bring the soup to boil before serving.
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