Chan Choy Tong (Malabar Spinach Soup) with salted duck egg for another layer of flavor. This quick boil soup is perfect for busy weeknights.
I cannot stress enough the importance of clear soups in a Chinese home. In some families, it is served during each and every meal. Mom made a pot of soup almost every day for dinner when I was growing up. Back in my primary (elementary) school days, charcoal stoves were still being used for boiling soups. I remember mom had the local grocery shop deliver a bag of charcoal to the house every month for this purpose. Such was the service in the old days and there was no charge for this home delivery on the motorbike.
The stand alone charcoal stove usually stood in the courtyard, a paved but unroofed area right in the middle of the house. Almost every day I would come home from school to find a pot of soup slowly cooking on that stove. If the stove was not lid that day, soup would still be served. Instead, mom would prepare a quick boil soup on the gas stove. These soups were usually made with ikan bilis (dried anchovies) and vegetables.
Quick Boil Chan Choy Tong (Malabar Spinach Soup)
One such soup is this popular Chan Choy Tong (Malabar Spinach Soup). Back then, purple stem chan choy was the norm and they can be easily purchased at the wet markets. Only the leaves are eaten and the thick center stem can be stuck in the dirt by the chain-linked fence to grow. These fast growing vines held a fascination for the kids, myself included. Apart from those succulent leaves, they also produce purple berries (pods) which will turn into seeds when allowed to mature. These poor plants rarely got the chance to do their thing as my brothers and I together with the neighborhood kids would have so much fun bursting them and staining our hands and driveway with the purple juice. Oops, that was one of the naughty things I did as a kid! Now, you know my “secret”…haha!
Ikan Bilis/Dried Anchovies or Minced/Ground Pork Soup Base
Now, back to this delicious Chan Choy Tong (Malabar Spinach Soup). As I was saying, this soup can be prepared in no time at all. Some families would use ikan bilis (dried anchovies) while others minced/ground pork for the soup base. Then, a regular chicken egg or a salted duck egg is cracked into the soup. Mom prefers to use ikan bilis and regular chicken egg. For today’s recipe, I have decided to use both ikan bilis and minced/ground pork as I have a small portion left in refrigerator which needed to be used. I recently made some brine cured salted duck eggs and so I used one for this soup. Ahh…the soup turned out to be super tasty! I finished two bowls of this soup with a bowl of steamed rice. It was soooo good!
Similar Tools Used in Making This Chan Choy Tong (Malabar Spinach Soup)
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Chan Choy Tong (Malabar Spinach Soup)
- 1 tbsp vegetable oil
- ½ oz ikan bilis (dried anchovies), peeled and cleaned (15g)
- 2 cloves garlic (minced)
- 3 oz ground pork (85g)
- ¼ tsp ground pepper
- 4 cups water (960ml)
- 1 salted duck egg
- Salt to taste
- ¾ lb chan choy (Malabar spinach), rinsed, drained, and stems removed (340g)
- Rinse and soak dried anchovies for 10 minutes. Drain and wipe dry with paper towels.
- Heat vegetable oil in a medium sized pot. Fry (ikan bilis) anchovies for about 2 minutes. Add garlic and fry for 30 seconds. Add ground pork and pepper. Continue to cook until pork turns opaque, about 2 minutes.
- Pour in water and bring it to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes.
- Crack salted duck egg into the soup. Break up yolk with a spatula and continue to simmer until salted duck egg is cooked through. Add a little salt if necessary.
- Add chan choy/Malabar spinach leaves. Bring soup back up to a boil. Turn off the stove.
- Dish into individual soup bowls and serve immediately.
NOTE: The original publication of this post was on March 25th, 2015. This republication comes with minor changes to the writeup. The recipe remains unchanged.