Winter Melon Soup (Tong Kua Tong) is a soothing and nutritious soup with cooling properties.…
Make this special Steamed Stuffed Winter Melon Soup the centerpiece of your table spread for a family reunion or gathering. It is exciting and super delicious!
A grand and unique way of preparing winter melon stuffed with goodies is to make this Steamed Stuffed Winter Melon Soup. You can make this into a centerpiece for your festive table spread. It is great for all Chinese festivals like Chinese (Lunar) New Year, Mooncake (Mid-Autumn) Festival, and Tang Chek (Winter Solstice Festival).
Mom-in-Law’s Special Steamed Stuffed Winter Melon Soup
The idea of this Steamed Stuffed Winter Melon Soup came from my late mother-in-law. I only remember having eaten it once when she prepared it while we were living in Penang after Paul and I got married. I thought it was really special and have loved it as much as Paul does. After we moved back to Kuala Lumpur, I cooked it several times during festivities. Here in the United States I have not been able to get a small enough winter melon until very recently.
It takes a long time to steam an entire winter melon. My mother-in-law steamed the winter melon over a charcoal stove in the “outdoor” kitchen which took several hours. That in itself was kind of “festive” and the anticipation made the soup even more special. The trick though is not to over steam the melon to the point of not being able to lift it out of the pot. The melon should be soft but still retain its shape as a “vessel” for the soup.
Finding the Perfect Melon
Winter melons are huge melons. Finding a small enough round melon to fit inside a pot is a challenge. I have literally waited for years to get one here in the US and was beyond thrilled when I saw this small very rounded melon at the Asian market two weeks ago. I paid over USD10.00 for this melon but it was totally worth it. Hopefully, they will continue to bring in more of these small melons in the future.
Choosing the Right Pot
You want to use a pot that is large enough for the melon to sit inside and still be able to place the lid over it. I only have one pot that is wide enough to accommodate this 7 pounds melon bu the top was jutting out of the pot. Fortunately, I found an old dome lid that I had previously used as a wok lid which fitted perfectly over the pot.
The other challenge was to place and remove the melon from the pot. Good thing my recently purchased Instant Pot came with a steaming rack, perfect for that purpose. The handles were a little short but that was easily fixed by tying a rafia loop over each handle. That worked out nicely. I also found a metal dish to place under the melon just in case it got too soft during steaming. With all these “tools”, I was all set to prepare this special Steamed Stuffed Winter Melon Soup.
If I remember correctly, my mother-in-law used ground (minced) pork, dried oysters, Chinese mushrooms, and red dates in the stuffing. I added a few other ingredients like dried scallops, sea moss, and goji berries for a more luxurious soup. You can pick and choose your favorites from my list of ingredients or use them all.
Similar Tools Used in Making This Steamed Stuffed Winter Melon Soup
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- Rinse and soak dried oysters in a small bowl for 30 minutes. Once they are reconstituted, drain the soaking liquid. Do the same for dried scallops, red dates, and dried sea moss.
- Rinse and soak Chinese mushrooms in a medium bowl. Once they are reconstituted, remove the stems and cut into halves. Strain and reserve 1½ cups (360ml) of the soaking liquid.
- Combine ground pork, pepper, soy sauce, and Shao Hsing Cooking wine in a medium bowl. Set aside.
- Add about an inch of water in a pot large enough to accommodate the winter melon. Bring the water to a boil. Prepare a steaming rack preferably with handles to hold the melon.
- Rinse and wipe dry winter melon. Cut off top of the melon around stem to make a “lid”. Remove seeds and scrape out stringy pulp. Place the melon in a shallow bowl.
- Transfer prepared ground pork into the base of the melon followed by the prepared dried oysters, scallops, sea moss, and mushrooms.
- Pour reserved mushroom soaking liquid into the melon. Place the melon “lid” on top of the melon.
- Transfer stuffed winter melon onto the steaming rack and into the pot. Steam over medium heat for 1 hour. Add more water to the pot whenever necessary.
- After an hour, remove the lid from the steamer. Carefully lift up the melon “lid” and add prepared goji berries into the soup. Place the melon “lid” back onto the melon.
- Add more water to the pot if necessary. Then cover the pot and continue to steam for another hour.
- Finally, remove lid from the pot. Carefully lift up the melon “lid” and gently pierce the inside of the melon with a fork to see if it is tender. Also do a taste test and stir in salt to taste.
- If satisfied that melon is sufficiently tender and stuffing is well cooked, then steaming is done. Otherwise continue to steam for another 10 to 20 minutes. Carefully lift the winter melon out of the pot.
- Serve immediately by scooping out bits of melon, stuffing, and soup into individual bowls.
I made this Steamed Stuffed Winter Melon Soup for our pre Chinese New Year dinner so that I can share it with you all. We really enjoyed it very much and Paul and I are happy that the boys enjoyed it as much as we did. Hopefully, I can get another melon for next week. If not, I have a work around for you. stay tuned… 🙂