One of the things that gets ooohs and aaaahs in a chinese restaurant is the #WinterMelonSoup. You may ask why? Well because with this soup, restaurants use the winter melon itself as a huge bowl to serve the soup! It’s a sight to see as you’ll be amazed how they were able to pull it off. You’ll see the whole winter melon, and then suddenly they’re take out the top part and when you peek in, the soup is inside together with meat bits and other veggies! My mom has tried it at home, and I remember her being nervous that the winter melon doesn’t break apart, kunde sira ang presentation!
So during this #EnhancedCommunityQuarantine, I chanced upon Theo’s Farm that they have winter melon, so I ordered. When I saw it – I knew I wouldn’t be able to pull off the carving and serving the winter melon. It actually made the preparation easier. I had to ask my mom, and she told me to steam the winter melon to soften it. Honestly, I don’t think I can wait that long to steam it soft. I’m sure it’s a long process and the idea didn’t sit well with me. So I had to improvise. INSTANT POT! Yes, it just suddenly occurred to me that I can use that instead of steaming. But how? I wasn’t sure what to do, so I just took a chance. I washed the winter melon clean. Scrubbed the wintermelon’s skin making sure it’s really really clean. When it was clean enough, I cut the winter melon into half (crosswise) and then another half (lengthwise) and finally, I took out all the seeds. I chose to put just water in the IP, made sure there was enough water to submerge the cut up winter melons. I placed them in the IP, locked it and pressed the Pressure Cook. I was honestly nervous because I had no expectations. Well, I was afraid that the winter melon will explode inside, but wished that it wont. Anyway, when the timer went off, I did the manual quick pressure release (I do this all the time as I would like to save time) and when I opened it, the winter melon looked a bit wrinkly. I used a huge fork to take it out – I learned the hard way that it was really soft because the soft winter melon fell back down in the pot! So now, remember to use two utensils to take it out as it’s very very VERY soft. When I took it out, I saw how soft it was, it was so easy to scrape out the winter melon from the skin! I know what you’re thinking – isasama narin ba yung skin? I thought about that long and hard but decided to forego the skin. So I easily scrapped the skin off. Do not throw out the broth, well you can – but I didn’t. Sayang the juices! haha.. Traditionally, the winter melon should be bite sized cuts – but because it was really really soft, I just decided to mash it into random pieces. Hahaha!! Sorry, but that’s how I cook – I adjust my process as I go along. I add the mashed pieces back into the broth, throw in chicken bits and mushrooms. Lock the lid again and hit the Porridge button which was 20minutes. You can use the Soup or Stew or the Pressure Cook again – but I just needed the time 20 minutes because I was in a hurry. Hahaha!! It came out to this:
Success? Well, heck yeah! This was my first time to make it and I loved the clean broth! See below my recipe: WINTER MELON SOUP ala Didi Winter Melon (any size you can get your hands on) Chicken Fillet (breast or thighs) Shitake Mushroom (or any mushroom) Chicken Cubes/Powder/Broth Water Step 1 Pour water (in hindsight, I think I should have put chicken broth in the IP, maybe you can try it?) in the IP just enough to half submerge the winter melon cut ups. Hit the Pressure Cook button and wait. Step 2 Cut up the chicken to small bits (unless you want them a bit bigger) Mix in some shaoxing wine and Lee Kum Kee Premium Soy Sauce (not a lot ha..) Pan fry a bit (well, that’s what I did! Hahaha.. just toss them for a good minute or two) Set aside Step 3 Cut up mushrooms to smaller bits (I think you can use the button mushrooms, but I think there will be a variation in taste) In all honesty, you can add whatever you want, but consider what the taste outcome will be like if you add them. Step 4 Do manual pressure release if the timer’s up. Take out the winter melon carefully – use two utensils as the winter melon is super soft na at this point. Use a spoon to scrape out the winter melon from the skin. Do this carefully. You know, I thought about just mashing them all up – but I did not, but maybe you can? I just don’t know if there will be a bitter taste though. But I guess the safer way is to discard the skin of the winter melon. Mash the winter melon meat. NOTE: You can choose to discard the winter melon broth, but I didn’t – Hahahahah!! Step 5 Drop in 1 Chicken Cube (you can use chicken powder, add a little at a time and taste the broth) Add in the slightly cooked chicken bits and the mushrooms. Add in the mashed winter melon meat too! Step 6 Put back the cover, lock it and then press PORRIDGE. I chose this because the time is just 20minutes. But if you have time to spare, I think you can try the pressure cook with 35 minutes. Serve and enjoooooy!! This is a very basic recipe that you can tweak to your liking. This is a very clean and clear soup and I was so happy with the outcome. I hope you enjoy yours as well!!!