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hzrt8w

Pictorial: Winter Melon Chicken Soup

27 posts in this topic

Pictorial Recipe

Winter Melon Chicken Soup (冬瓜雞湯)

This is Chinese soup at its best, Cantonese soup simmered over slow fire for hours.

Picture of the finished dish:

gallery_19795_3263_20960.jpg

Serving Suggestion: 10-12

Preparations:

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Featured: 1 whole chicken, about 3 lb. You may also use a whole duck (even better) or other poultries. The aged the better.

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Featured: Winter melon. This particular melon is about 12 lb. Use about 1/3 of the melon, about 3-4 lbs.

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This is a picture of the black eyed beans.

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This is a picture of the red beans.

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This is a picture of the Chinese dried dates ("Mut Zho" in Cantonese).

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This is a picture of the Chinese red dates ("Hung Zho" in Cantonese).

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Remaining ingredients for the soup:

- (Bowl on upper right) About 10 dried oysters

- (Bowl on the lower right) About 7-8 dried scallops

- (On the round plate, clockwise from the top):

- 15 dried black mushrooms

- Chinese red beans, about 1/4 cup

- Black eyed beans, about 1/4 cup

- Chinese red dates, about 20

- Chinese dried dates, about 6-7

- Dried olive kerneis. (南北杏), about 3 tblsp

gallery_19795_3263_10686.jpg

It is best to soak the dried scallop overnight. If not, at least 1 to 2 hours. Save the soaking liquid and use it in the soup. Soak the dried black mushrooms for 1-2 hours. Trim the stems off when soft. You may also save the soaking liquid and use it in the soup. Also soak the red beans, black eyed beans (for a few hours or overnight), and Chinese red dates for 1-2 hours. Soak the dried oyster for 1-2 hours. Drain and discard the soaking liquid before use.

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Use a sharp knife to cut the winter melon at about 1/3.

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Use a small spoon to scoop off the seeds.

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Rinse and cut the melon into smaller pieces.

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Remove the rind and cut the melon to about 1 inch X 2 inch. Some likes to leave the winter melon rind on when making soup. It is okay too.

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All the winter melon pieces.

Cooking Instructions:

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This is to illustrate the Chinese "double boil" method in making soup. First, boil the whole chicken in just enough water to cover most of the bird.

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Boil for only 3-5 minutes, no longer.

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Remove the chicken and place in a colander. Rinse under cold water to wash away the suds. Drain the first pot of water and rinse the pot.

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Boil about 10-12 cups of water, about 1/3 to 1/2 of the pot of this size. Return the chicken to the boiling water, and add the soaked dried scallops, soaked dried oysters, red beans, black eyed beans and olive kerneis. Once the water starts boiling, reduce the heat to medium-low.

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Simmer for about 1 1/2 hour with the lid on. This is how it looked after 1 1/2 hour of simmering.

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Add the remaining of the ingredients: soaked dried black mushrooms, Chinese dried red dates, Chinese dried dates, and the winter melons. Continue to simmer for 1 1/2 to 2 more hours.

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This is how it looked after another 1 1/2 hour of simmering. At last, add about 1-2 tsp of salt (or to taste).

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The winter melon is very soft after 2 hours of simmering. Ready to serve. Transfer to the serving bowl.

gallery_19795_3263_20960.jpg

Picture of the finished dish.


Edited by hzrt8w (log)

W.K. Leung ("Ah Leung") aka "hzrt8w"

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Ah Leung:

Your version seems delicious especially with the beans.

The type of Winter Melon Soup I'm most familiar with was served during the cooler months but without any beans.

At Restaurants the featured this soup it was generally served in a decorated 1/2 or whole Winter Melon.

It included Ginkgo Nuts, Chrysanthemum Buds, Yunnan Ham or Serrano Ham, Dates, Ginger, Dried Scallops and Oysters in a Supreme Chicken Broth, Boneless Chicken added before serving just cooked until opaque. It was presented to the table then the melon was scraped from the skin with a special long porcelain spoon into individual bowls served left in the center of the table with a ladle for refills.

It may have been called "Dong Gua" but was very popular as soon as the weather changed featured at several Restaurants in Wanchai and Causeway Bay that were also famous for their Yunnan Hams.

Irwin


I don't say that I do. But don't let it get around that I don't.

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Ah Leung- this soup looks absolutely delicious! Thanks for sharing.

Quick question: why do the "double boil" method? is there a reason for dumping out the first liquid? Isn't that throwing away good flavor, or am I wrong?

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Cool!

I've been eyeing the winter melons at the farmers' market and have always wanted to make something with them. This looks like a great dish.

Do you cut up the chicken and serve it with the soup? Or use it for something else?

I'm familiar with Red Dates (usually called jujube here). Are "Mut Zho" regular palm dates?


---

Erik Ellestad

If the ocean was whiskey and I was a duck...

Bernal Heights, SF, CA

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Ah Leung: That soup would be a meal in itself!

I love dong gua tong. Sometimes I make it with just pork bones, sliced pork and a few slivers of ham choi for a very light and quick version. Other times, I leave the rind on the melon chunks and add rehydrated oysters. This is slowly simmered on the stove until the rind is tender. The rind is not really eaten, but Po-Po says it is for cooling (leunng hay).

The version that wesza described is usually served at banquets. The whole melon is steamed with the broth and ingredients inside. I have had it with abalone. :wub: It's quite incredible to see some of the carving done on the rind. It would be easy to carve the word "happiness", but dragons, pheonex, etc...whew! :cool:


Dejah

www.hillmanweb.com

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I could eat this soup year-round, and it's particularly good in hot weather. I was really interested to read all the elaborations - I've only ever made a very simple version.

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At Restaurants the featured this soup it was generally served in a decorated 1/2 or whole Winter Melon.

It included Ginkgo Nuts, Chrysanthemum Buds, Yunnan Ham or Serrano Ham, Dates, Ginger, Dried Scallops and Oysters in a Supreme Chicken Broth, Boneless Chicken added before serving just cooked until opaque. It was presented to the table then the melon was scraped from the skin with a special long porcelain spoon into individual bowls served left in the center of the table with a ladle for refills. 

The dish described above is the winter melon soup, banquet style. The winter melon is the vessel holding the soup, as well as the ingredient to make the soup. The whole melon is steamed in a steamer holding the broth inside. In essence this is the Chinese "Dun" method (steam-boiling) - only to use the melon body as the cooking vessel.

In Cantonese, this banquet-style winter melon soup is called "Dong Qua Zhun", as opposed to the day-to-day home style soup making which is called "Dong Qua Tong".


W.K. Leung ("Ah Leung") aka "hzrt8w"

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Quick question: why do the "double boil" method?  is there a reason for dumping out the first liquid?  Isn't that throwing away good flavor, or am I wrong?

Chinese believe that in order for the soup to be "pure", we need to get rid of the suds and "filth" in the soup - which is basically blood cooked in boiling water. The fist boil will make the blood solidified and make it float on the top. Rinsing the chicken/duck/meat-bone under water will wash them away, and discarding the water used in the first round, will provide soup that is not cloudy (thus more "pure").

That's why the first boil should be quick. Flavor will take hours to extract from the meat and bones. Discarding the quick-boiled, first round liquid is okay.


W.K. Leung ("Ah Leung") aka "hzrt8w"

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Do you cut up the chicken and serve it with the soup?  Or use it for something else?

I'm familiar with Red Dates (usually called jujube here).  Are "Mut Zho" regular palm dates?

The flavor of the chicken meat all goes into the soup after 3 hours of simmering. Usually not worthy to eat. The meat is very dry and rather bland. I sometimes like to chew on the chicken thigh and drum sticks here and there. The breast can pretty much be discarded.

Yes "Mut Zho" is the plam date, I think you are right.


W.K. Leung ("Ah Leung") aka "hzrt8w"

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The version that wesza described is usually served at banquets. The whole melon is steamed with the broth and ingredients inside. I have had it with abalone. :wub: It's quite incredible to see some of the carving done on the rind. It would be easy to carve the word "happiness", but dragons, pheonex, etc...whew! :cool:

Winter melon rind carving is really a work of art. Some have very sophiscated patterns.


W.K. Leung ("Ah Leung") aka "hzrt8w"

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So much goodness in your soup Xiao Hzrt!

Mine usually is very simple with just ham, black mushrooms, chestnuts and a littleTian Tsin preserved vegetable.

But there was a time that I experimented with a whole Winter Melon Pond: The picture with the recipe showed this beautifully carved BRIGHT EMERALD whole melon with the soup in it. I followed the directions and ended up with a PEA SOUP GREEN melon. I never thought that artistic license would be taken with the picture of the completed dish. with the soup placed in a melon that had been steamed just long enough to make the skin brillant green. But I learned!

In the first ones, my primative carvings on the skin looked pretty bad as the long steaming made the whole thing pretty mushy. The worst part was keeping the thing intact as I tried to raise it out of the pot using a cloth harness.

Those were the days! Now, if I have a soup class, I stick to something simple.

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Ah Leung, as Dejah says your soup is indeed a meal by itself. As for me, I have not travelled far enough yet to have ever encountered a winter melon soup incorporating beans in it. But it could "work" I suppose.

My view on the thing is that the salient point of any winter melon soup is the essential clear broth, otherwise why would one do a first blanching of the bones and meats? Beans, if not done properly would really cloud the issue.

I always thought that mut zho (Toysanese: "mit doh") is dried fig. :huh::blink:

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Ah Leung:

Your recipe calls for about 1.5kg of wintermelon (your picture shows one about 5-6kg!). In Paris, I have not been able to find any beyond about 800g... Is it possible to use these smaller ones by removing the rind and cutting into about 20 pieces 3-5cm? I guess that I would need 3-4. Maybe I could also use them as individual soup bowls if I cut them in half in some zig-zag fashion.

I have looked everywhere but I am unable to find Dried Scallops (or Dried Oysters) in Paris. What to do?

- Can I take fresh scallops and do something to them (e.g. soak in oyster sauce overnight)?

- Can I remplace the dried scallops with dried shrimps or something else?

- Do I give up on making this dish (what a shame!)?

This question concerning dried scallops applies also to your recipe: Braised Abalone, Dried Scallops and Black Mushrooms (紅 燒 瑤 柱 鮑 魚 )

Have a good day!

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Ah Leung:

Your recipe calls for about 1.5kg of wintermelon (your picture shows one about 5-6kg!). In Paris, I have not been able to find any beyond about 800g... Is it possible to use these smaller ones by removing the rind and cutting into about 20 pieces 3-5cm? I guess that I would need 3-4. Maybe I could also use them as individual soup bowls if I cut them in half in some zig-zag fashion.

It seems that they only sell wintermelons by slices... which is what the local markets here do too because usually customers don't buy a whole one. Wintermelons are big. The one I showed in the picture was a gift from a relative. Home grown. You can certainly combine smaller slices to make the soup.

RE: I have looked everywhere but I am unable to find Dried Scallops (or Dried Oysters) in Paris. What to do?

That's a tough one. I saw your question about substitutes but I couldn't think of any good substitute. But it's hard to believe you could not find such ingredient in Paris. Is there a China Town in Paris? Because I have been to China Town in London and you can find dried scallop easy enough. There are many China Towns even in small cities in the USA. Or else ask friends to buy them for you if they make trips to Asia.

RE: - Can I take fresh scallops and do something to them (e.g. soak in oyster sauce overnight)?

I don't think this will work.

RE: - Can I remplace the dried scallops with dried shrimps or something else?

You may but I don't think the taste will be close.


W.K. Leung ("Ah Leung") aka "hzrt8w"

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i agree with hzrt8w in that the proposed subs are unlikely to work, and in fact, could be a disaster. IMO, it is better to just leave it out, and you could still have a great soup.

the closest substitute i can think of, for dried scallops or dried oysters, is dried squid, and i use that in quite a lot of chinese soups eg, lotus root soup, water cress soup, etc. I have not used dried squid in winter melon soup though.

From my experience, it could be equally difficult to find dried squid in Paris chinatowns. The last time i tried to find dried squid (first week July 2010), i could not find them in Tang Freres, or the Paris (?) grocery store, which is oppposite to Tang Freres. I did not try the other (or second) chinatown in paris, which is around the Bellevue metro.

If you must use dried scallops or oysters, then stock up on your next trip to London.

i could be wrong, but i think the 'chinese' grocery stores in Paris are more geared towards the vietnamese than to chinese, in that you can find glorious and plentiful vietnamese herbs and ingredients, etc, but not the more chinese-specific ingredients like dried scallops?

Perhaps others could contribute their experiences of chinese and/or vietnamese ingredients in Paris, or europe in general.


It's dangerous to eat, it's more dangerous to live.

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I'd be shocked if you couldn't buy dried scallops in Paris, even if most of the Chinese business are geared more towards Vietnamese. Keep in mind that dried scallops are traditionally sold in Chinese medicinal shops, not in normal grocery stores. These medicinal shops are where you'd find other exotic dried items such as ginseng and shark's fins.


Edited by sheetz (log)

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Thanks a lot for your replies. I also thought about going to a herbal store. I will go on Thursday to my favorite one and respond then. Wish me luck.

For the 800g wintermelons which I find, I have done the following:

1. Cut them in half along their "equator" in a zig-zag fashion (for later presentation)

2. De-seed each half

3. Steam both halves until the flesh is a bit soft

4. Carefully remove the flesh without disturbing the rind

5. Proceed as per Ah Leung's recipe, adding the wintermelon later since it is somewhat cooked already

6. Serve the soup in the half wintermelon rind, one per person

What do you think?

Have a good day.

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Watermelon rind can be a good substitute for winter melon.

dcarch

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If this helps any...

"Chinatowns in Europe"

From Wikipedia:

...two Chinatowns in Paris, France: One where many Vietnamese – specifically ethnic Chinese refugees from Vietnam – have settled in the Quartier chinois in the XIIIe arrondissement of Paris, and the other in Belleville in the northeast of Paris.

Have you been to the Chinatown in Belleville?


“Peter: Oh my god, Brian, there's a message in my Alphabits. It says, 'Oooooo.'

Brian: Peter, those are Cheerios.”

– From Fox TV’s “Family Guy”

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.....

3. Steam both halves until the flesh is a bit soft

4. Carefully remove the flesh without disturbing the rind

5. Proceed as per Ah Leung's recipe, adding the wintermelon later since it is somewhat cooked already

.....

Why is there a need to steam the wintermelon first before using it to make soup?


W.K. Leung ("Ah Leung") aka "hzrt8w"

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Ah Leung:

Thanks for your question. I was probably not clear.

I wish to remove the flesh from the small wintermelons while keeping the half-rinds intact to be used later as the individual containers for the soup.

After cutting each wintermelon in half (in zig-zag fashion for later presentation) and de-seeding, I found it difficult to remove the flesh while leaving a rind with a relatively even thickness on the inner side. So I steamed a bit to soften the flesh. This can be done ahead of time. (I didn't try, but maybe I could have just put very hot water inside the de-seeded wintermelon half to soften the flesh without heating the rind.) From here on, the flesh thus removed is used in your recipe.

Of course, I could simply peel the rind and use the flesh as you do for your larger wintermelons.

All this work to try to retain some esthetics!! Maybe I am too ambitious..

Have a good day.


Edited by udscbt (log)

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Are dong gua available year-round?


I'm a canning clean freak because there's no sorry large enough to cover the, "Oops! I gave you botulism" regrets.

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Are dong gua available year-round?

Winter melons are usually harvested in winter, e.g. Nov/Dec. But they do last a long time if uncut. I had one before and it lasted well into the summer. Store in a cool, dry place.


Edited by hzrt8w (log)

W.K. Leung ("Ah Leung") aka "hzrt8w"

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Hi Hzrt! Hao jiu bu jian!

About the dried scallops/conpoy. Would a bit of anchovy add that flavor? Or how about using Chinese ham. That seems to be a staple in Winter Melon soups. (or Smithfield, or Virginia ham)

Hard to believe an An Asian store without dried scallops. But they can be ordered on-line ---- and they last forever.

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Conpoy or dried scallops is added mainly to provide umami to a dish. Anchovies would not be a good substitute because it is too fishy. Better to omit dried scallops altogether if it is so difficult to obtain. I should think that Japanese bonito flakes would be a better sub than anchovy...or even a dash of msg. :smile::cool:

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      Step 5 Preserving
      Keep the sealed jar of salted yellow lemons at least 3 years. And the colour of salted yellow lemons will turn brown day by day. It can be dark brown later. The longer you keep preserved lemons, the better taste it is. If you eat it earlier than 2 years, it will taste bitter. After 3 years, it can be unsealed. Please use clean chopsticks to pick it. Don’t use oily chopsticks, or the oil will make preserved lemons go bad. Remember to seal the jar well after picking preserved lemons every time.
    • By liuzhou
      Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region in southern China, where I live, is sugar central for the country. Over two-thirds of China's output of sugar is grown right here, making it one of the largest sugar production areas on the planet. I have a second home in the countryside and it is surrounded by sugar cane fields.

      Much of this is produced by small time farmers, although huge Chinese and international companies have also moved in.
       
      Also, sugar is used extensively in Chinese cooking, not only as a sweetener, but more as a spice. A little added to a savoury dish can bring out otherwise hidden flavours. It also has medicinal attributes according to traditional Chinese medicine.
       
      Supermarkets have what was to me, on first sight, a huge range of sugars, some almost unrecognisable. Here is a brief introduction to some of them. Most sugar is sold loose, although corner shops and mom 'n pop stores may have pre-packed bags. These are often labelled in English as "candy", the Chinese language not differentiating between "sugar" and "candy" - always a source of confusion. Both are 糖 (táng),

      IMPORTANT NOTE: The Chinese names given here and in the images are the names most used locally. They are all Mandarin Chinese, but it is still possible that other names may be used elsewhere in China. Certainly, non-Mandarin speaking areas will be different.

      By the far the simplest way to get your sugar ration is to buy the unprocessed sugar cane. This is not usually available in supermarkets but is a street vendor speciality. In the countryside, you can buy it at the roadside. There are also people in markets etc with portable juice extractors who will sell you a cup of pure sugar cane juice.


       
      I remember being baffled then amused when, soon after I first arrived in China, someone asked me if I wanted some 甘蔗 (gān zhè). It sounded exactly like 'ganja' or cannabis. No such luck! 甘蔗 (gān zhè) is 'sugar cane'.
       
      The most common sugar in the supermarkets seems to be 冰糖 (bīng táng) which literally means 'ice 'sugar' and is what we tend to call 'rock sugar' or 'crystal sugar'. This highly refined sugar comes in various lump sizes although the price remains the same no matter if the pieces are large or small. Around ¥7/500g. That pictured below features the smaller end of the range.


       
      Related to this is what is known as 冰片糖 (bīng piàn táng) which literally means "ice slice sugar". This is usually slightly less processed (although I have seen a white version, but not recently) and is usually a pale brown to yellow colour. This may be from unprocessed cane sugar extract, but is often white sugar coloured and flavoured with added molasses. It is also sometimes called 黄片糖  (huáng piàn táng) or "yellow slice sugar". ¥6.20/500g.
       


      A less refined, much darker version is known as 红片糖 (hóng piàn táng), literally 'red slice sugar'. (Chinese seems to classify colours differently - what we know as 'black tea' is 'red tea' here. ¥7.20/500g.


       
      Of course, what we probably think of as regular sugar, granulated sugar is also available. Known as 白砂糖 (bái shā táng), literally "white sand sugar', it is the cheapest at  ¥3.88/500g.



      A brown powdered sugar is also common, but again, in Chinese, it isn't brown. It's red and simply known as 红糖 (hóng táng). ¥7.70/500g


       
      Enough sweetness and light for now. More to come tomorrow.
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