In southern China and Hong Kong it is traditional to eat a particular winter soup whose main ingredient is winter melon
If for us Westerners the idea of having fruit among the main ingredients of a hot winter soup may seem unusual, in Chinese cuisine the combination of soup and sweet flavors it is an established habit, so much so that some of these recipes are real desserts. Between traditional soups more characteristics and representative of the south of China a particular preparation based on stands out winter melon (dong gua). There are more or less rich versions of this dish, depending on whether it is cooked at home as a popular food and comfort food, or whether it is part of the banquet and ceremonial menu, as well as more modern and revisited versions. So let's discover the characteristics of the classic variant, from the properties to the most used ingredients.
The recipe for winter melon soup and some of its variations
The home-made and poor version of this recipe includes a few simple ingredients, all commonly used in China. In addition to the winter melon, the other main ingredient is pork meat and, more precisely, the hock, or the end of the shin bone. More modern variants involve the use of pork ribs, meatballs, Chinese ham or chicken instead. For the broth, on the other hand, various ingredients and aromas are generally used, including ginger, dried tangerine peel and Chinese dates. To prepare the soup, simply pour all the ingredients into a large pot full of water, adding the last cubes of winter melon, and let it boil for about two hours. The soup is then served in a bowl, with or without the piece of meat or bone. This dish can also be eaten in summer at room temperature, as a tasty, thirst-quenching and refreshing remedy for the heat. In modern Chinese cuisine and in restaurant menus, winter melon soup it is often enriched with other ingredients, including carrots, shiitake mushrooms, dried shrimp or anchovies, crabmeat, lotus seeds, and kombu seaweed.
The winter melon: sweet, nutritious and low-calorie fruit
As we have seen, the main ingredient of this soup is the winter melon, also called yellow or winter melon. Characterized by an elongated shape, a rather smooth yellow skin and a light and sugary pulp whose consistency recalls that of melon, this melon is harvested in summer but, as the name suggests, it can be kept until December / January. Bringing this fruit to the table during the colder months means not only being able to appreciate its pleasant summer aroma out of season, but also benefiting from its beneficial and nutritional properties. The winter melon is in fact low-calorie (less than 30 calories for about 100 grams), as it consists of over 90% water, and is also a good source of iron, calcium, phosphorus, B vitamins and antioxidants. . The Asian variety of this fruit has a very thin green skin, e it is used both in Chinese cuisine in addition to soups and fried foods, both in the Traditional Chinese Medicine as a natural diuretic, laxative and to regulate blood pressure and metabolism.
Photo: Chinese winter melon soup_500_Pixabay.
Photo: Chinese winter melon soup Wintermelonsoup 800_Wikimedia commons.jpg.
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