May Contain Nuts

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Winter Melon and Duck Egg Pork Broth Soup

Here is another one of my quickie Chinese soups.  When it comes to chinese soups, flavours are not developed from its ingredients (well, ingredients take part) but how long we simmer the soup for.  Good chinese soups usually take a day of simmering.  That’s probably why Chicken Essence is supposedly good and expensive, they probably throw in a thousand chickens in a millions of litres of water and simmer it down to half a liter of essence!

Winter melon (dong gwa) is easy to find in chinese super markets.  Many of them are sold as a whole melon (which is huge) or cut in halves or quarters.  It’s cheap that it’s less than a dollar per pound but not necessary that cheap if you buy a whole melon as it is very heavy and you may not use all of it and they generally don’t keep for very long.

Winter melons are known for its cooling properties, if you have too much heat in your body.   It’s pretty hard to understand what food is a cooling or heating food for your body, it’s just something that I learn from my mom. Kinda like determining whether a French word is masculine of feminine, there’s no rule to determine, you just learn and remember.

Ingredients:

  • a quarter to half of a winter melon – diced into cubes, skinned (you can keep the skin for texture, but it’s hard and you can’t eat it)
  • one duck egg
  • 6 litres of water (or part broth)
  • pork bones or pork shoulder/butt (what I used because I had no bones)
  • corn starch
  • white pepper
  • sesame oil
  • soy sauce
  • chopped green onions (optional – for garnish)

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Dice the winter melon into inch thick cubes.  Take the seeds out and take the thick hard dark green skin off.  If you use pork bones, blanche the bones so clean it from dirt and blood.  I didn’t have any bones so I used pork shoulder/butt (or other cheap cuts).  Cut into thin slices.  Marinade the pork slices with a dash of sesame oil, soy sauce, corn starch, sugar and white pepper. Hold the salt as the duck egg is salty.

Boil water/broth and toss the melon and pork in.  Let cook for 10 minutes on medium-high heat to get the pork flavour out.

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This is a duck egg.  Duck eggs are cured in salt so it’s extremely salty.  You do not fry duck eggs for breakfast and you use it as a salting ingredient in dishes.  They come in containers like regular eggs but in 4s or 6s.  I don’t think I’ve seen it sold in dozens. The shell is thin and you would need to wash the excess salt off the egg before using.  The yolk is harder than chicken eggs and darker in colour.

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Add the egg yolk and white into the soup.  Use a pair of scissors and cut the egg yolk into small pieces and mix into the rest of the soup.

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Boil for about an hour in medium high heat with the lid on, but tilted to the side so that it releases the steam.  By then you should have about 4 litres of soup.  If not, no worries, cook a bit longer since an hour is short by traditional chinese standards. 🙂  The duck egg should be enough to salt the soup, if not, add a bit of salt.  Garnish with chopped green onions when served.

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