Thursday, October 22, 2009

Shark's Fin Melon Soup

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.

Sharksfin melon soup 1

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.

Dried oysters
Dried oysters!

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.

Oil remover
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.

Sharksfin melon soup 2


  1. I have exactly the same strainer, but I use it to sift the cocoa powder over tiramisu, hahaha.

    Yummy, hearty and healthy soup you make!

  2. Oh Ju I am just going to bed and saw your new post..I just made soup..not as clear as yours..and thanks for the lesson in Shark's Fins:)

    I am sooo happy I have that same strainer:) We have something the same!!
    Wonderful soup pics,and your mushrooms look way more flavorful than mine..Oh now I want soup again:)

  3. Wow, How do I differentiate the normal melon with the shark fins one?
    Look yummy

  4. Oh Ive missed quite a few of your posts. Ive been away fromt the comp for a bit. But ive just looked at them though and I must say the orange cake looks great :)) And your sharks fin melon looks so clear and flavourful..mmm.

  5. i have not heard of shark fin melon. is it the same as winter melon?

  6. Kenny and Nana: Hahaha! We all have the same strainer!

    Nana: There are no mushrooms ;) Those are dried oysters :)

    Vijay: I always read the label, hahaha!

    Zurin: Yeah, am awaiting your next post with eager anticipation!

    Ellie: Not the same. I doubt you can get it in SYD. I think only people in SG and M'sia know what it is.

  7. One time, I saw this melon in wet market, but I did not buy it as I dont know to cook this. Next time, if I see this, will sure buy and try your recipe. Thanks for sharing.

  8. I need to find this melon here, if I can.

  9. I love clear soups & this looks just delicious! didn't know this melon is also called shark's fin melon till now. Thks for sharing!

  10. I love melon soup, the next time I try shredding it. Good idea !

  11. Dev'essere squisita questa zuppa, complimenti.
    Dalle mie parti le ostriche essicate sono assolutamente introvabili, posso sostituirle con della salsa alle ostriche?
    Un abbraccio Daniela.

  12. Wow, I've been trying to find out if we have this melon in India, but its a bit difficult, seeing that it goes by so many names! Very interesting, and another introduction to an ingredient for me as well :) Lovely clear soup, worth all that seiving/straining!

  13. What a great and unusual recipe! Looks really yummy! :))

  14. I wun to be your neighbour...veri tempting soup...
    Shall make it a try one day....

    : )

  15. Ju, Can I come over for dinner one day? ; )

    On the shark fin note - someone once commented on my blog that shark fins are not so bad these days as the whole shark is used. Back in Oz, shark is used for example, for fish and chips.

  16. Little T....that soup looks like it would warm my soul...
    Just beautiful!

  17. Yes please, can I have a bowl... since it's getting chilly.. :) I am not sure where I can get sharks fin melon....

  18. 鱼翅瓜汤! My love! Basically soup making is so simple, throw in everything, simmer lower low heat, done! But the taste is so NICE!!!

  19. Your soup looks so healthy, and so clear. Love it. Your orange cake also looks delicious.

  20. as I am from Australia, can you post a pic of how the melon look like?


  21. I tried boiling a similar soup but maybe on a shorter duration and my pork ribs seems to have a very ' porky" smell . How?

  22. Honey & Pooh : Did you blanch the pork ribs before putting them to boil in the soup? If you didn't, that could perhaps be the reason for the "porkiness" :)

  23. This Shark Fin Melon can also be cooked as tong shui with longans,red dates,sea coconuts and brown sugar. My mom usually serves this during CNY to replace the soft drinks that usually serve to all the relatives and friends. =D

  24. I grew my own shark fin melons for the first time this year here in Ireland and I'm looking forward to trying this recipe when I harvest my first melon this week. I'm wondering how important the dates and berries are and if they could be substituted for anything else as they would be difficult to get here.