Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Winter Melon Soup with Buna-Shimeji and Surimi




     A Nice Winter Melon Soup Variation!
     Today's Winter Melon Soup idea came to mind while shopping in Chinatown, Las Vegas.  I was looking at the Sam Woo Chinese BBQ menu and I saw many kinds of Winter Melon Soup offerings.  Previously I had only experienced the plain chicken broth version at other restaurants.  Seeing that that there is much more that can be done with Winter Melon Soup was like opening a door to creativity.
     I have published a couple of Winter Melon Soups recently that are traditional.  Chicken or ham often is added to this soup.  Basically, just about any item that has a mild savory flavor can be added.  White Beech Mushrooms (Bunapi-shimeji) and Surimi taste mild and savory, so they are a good choice.
     Surimi offers very little umami taste sensation, so the flavor is far from overbearing.  High quality Surimi is available in any fancy shape and decorative colors are an option.  The fancy Surimi in the photos has a colorful cherry blossom design.  Each slice looks like a miniature painting floating in the soup!
   
     Winter Melon Soup with Buna-Shimeji and Surimi:
     This recipe yields 1 large serving of soup!  
     Winter melon can grow up to eight feet long, so they are usually cut into 1 pound to 5 pound pieces at an Asian food market.   
     Try to only cook Winter Melon till it is soft, because if it is overcooked it will disintegrate in the broth.  It is important to not over season a winter melon soup or the delicate flavor will be lost. 
     Step 1:  Trim the rind and seed pulp off of a winter melon section.
     Cut the winter melon flesh into large bite size cube shaped pieces.  (About 1 1/2 cups of winter melon cubes is enough.)
     Step 2:  Boil 3 cups of chicken bouillon or chicken consommĂ© in a sauce pot over medium high heat.
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of minced ginger.
     Add 1/4 teaspoon of minced garlic.
     Add the reserved winter melon pieces.
     Add 10 to 15 whole white beech mushrooms.
     Add sea salt and white pepper to taste.
     Add 1 small pinch of Chinese five spice powder.
     Step 3:  Boil the soup till the winter melon pieces just start to turn clear around the edges.
     Step 4:  Reduce the temperature to medium low heat.
     Simmer till the winter melon cubes are tender and they look semi translucent.
     *Do not stir the soup after the winter melon becomes tender or the pieces might break apart. 
     Step 5:  Ladle the soup into a large soup bowl.
     Place 3 or 4 very thin slices of fancy surimi on top of the soup.
     Garnish with a few cilantro leaves.
   
     This is a delicate tasting, soothing Winter Melon Soup!

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