Friday, January 14, 2011

Winter Melon Soup: The Soup That Killed a Camera

Winter melon soup before camera died =(
This food blog has had its first casualty.  While taking pictures of this soup, our camera fell into the bowl of soup.

I'm still getting used to using our mini tripod, and now I've learned my lesson about keeping an eye on electronics when close to bowls of liquids. I wonder if this has happened to any one else. A quick Google search says no.  The camera can actually still take blurry pictures but the LCD screen doesn't work anymore. *sigh*

It is a small consolation that the soup was delicious, really delicious.  I had never bought winter melon before or even seen one except in restaurant soups.  I was worried that I would get the wrong melon because there are no English labels at my local Chinese grocery and usually no one who speaks English.  Luckily, I read somewhere that winter melons are usually sold by the wedge since the whole melon can be up to 50 lbs, so I picked from the only melon wedges at the store.  Bingo! Maybe in the future I will try this vegetarian version but I thought the bits of ham and dried scallop really added different layers of flavor to the soup. Since the melon itself doesn't have much flavor by itself, it soaked up the broth flavors.

As reviewers on epicurious note, don't substitute fresh scallops for the dried scallops; it would be better to skip them if you don't have them.  Lucky for me, my mother-in-law brings gives us a bag when she visits, so I usually have some around.

I skipped the original recipe's soaking process for the dried scallops and just threw them in near the end. I was also too lazy to skim off the fat, but I probably would if company was coming.

Broth with chicken and veggies taken by camera phone
I made this soup a few days ago, and tonight I shredded the boiled chicken and added that plus some watercress to the leftover broth.  It was as yummy as the original, but the picture is not as clear since it was taken with my camera phone.  Hopefully we'll have a new camera in the next few weeks!

Winter Melon Soup
adapted from Gourmet Magazine via epicurious

For broth
1 (3- to 3 1/2-lb) whole chicken
1 bunch scallions, halved crosswise
2 oz ham steak
1 (1-inch) piece peeled fresh ginger, smashed
10 cups water
1 tablespoon salt

For soup
Dried scallops, handful
1 (2-lb) wedge winter melon
2 oz ham steak, sliced into thin matchsticks
3 scallions, thinly sliced

1. Make broth: Rinse chicken inside and out, then stuff cavity with scallions, ham, and ginger. Bring water with chicken and salt to a boil in a deep 7- to 8-quart stockpot or pasta pot, then reduce heat and cook at a bare simmer, uncovered, skimming off froth occasionally, 1 hour. Remove and discard chicken. Let stand 5 minutes. Skim off fat.

2. Cut off and discard rind from winter melon. Remove and discard seeds, then cut melon into 1/3-inch cubes (about 5 cups). Add melon and dried scallops to broth and gently simmer, uncovered, until melon is transparent, 20 to 30 minutes.

3. Stir in ham, scallions, and salt to taste just before serving.

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