Before I get angry, chest-beating shark activists condemning my soup, let me assure everyone that Shark's Fin Melon is a vegetable. I repeat, Shark's Fin Melon is a vegetable. It is a gourd. Green. With plenty of seeds. Harvested from land. No dorsal fins in this soup, I swear.
I had a guest over for dinner a few nights ago. Being a light eater, all she wanted was soup. "It doesn't matter what you cook, as long as I have a nice bowl of home-brewed soup," she requested.
What an easy guest to cook for! ;)
Immediately I thought of making Shark's Fin Melon soup. Shark's Fin Melon gets its name from the way its flesh disintegrates when cooked. They fall apart into shreds, much like that of a real shark's fin.
Now, I love light, clear soups. But "light and clear" doesn't mean that flavour should be compromised. God knows how much I abhor drinking soups that taste like dishwater :(
So, whenever I make soups from melons and gourds (which are bland on their own), I always throw in a handful of dried oysters to get that deep, full-bodied, robust flavour. They truly give soups that x-factor.
Well, my soup turned out very flavourful and rich :) My guest also commented that it was "very smooth". The key to that is to sieve it through a cloth-like wire-mesh sieve (see below) a gazillion times. OK, I exaggerate. Sieve the soup through that at least 3 times, although I go at it a lot more.
My trusty helper! It only costs a couple of dollars and it does a fantastic job keeping the oil out.
First, I would scoop the visible oil from the surface. Next, I would use a ladle to scoop and sieve, scoop and sieve, over and over again, over the pot of soup. You will be surprised how much more oil you can sieve out. And I promise, you will get a very clear and smooth soup. It's worth the effort.
Serve each bowl with the melon chunks. Soup you can eat! Yum!
- About 3 large soup bowls of water (1 litre?)
- Half a Shark's Fin Melon, skin and seeds removed, cut into large chunks
- 4 to 5 dried oysters
- 1 large carrot, peeled and cut into chunks
- 3 chicken carcasses, blanched (you can use chicken parts or pork ribs/bones if you prefer)
1. Bring water to a rolling boil.
2. Throw in everything.
3. Boil on high for 10mins, then simmer for another hour? I used a pressure cooker and needed about 30mins.
4. Remove as much oil and scummy bits by using a fine wire-mesh sieve.