Winter Melon Soup with Pork Balls
Winter melon soup with pork balls is a Chinese soup I can rely on on busy days. Unlike my other Chinese soups which typically use chicken or pork, this recipe uses ikan bilis broth as the soup base. As a result, it is relatively easier and quicker because without the meat, you can skip the step of blanching them before cooking, or simmering the soup for some time to extract the sweetness of the meat. This soup is very healthy, high in calcium (thanks to the ikan bilis) and has cooling properties since winter melon is known to combat “heatiness” according to TCM. This recipe was adapted from my mum’s original winter melon soup. When she cooked this, she used plain water and later seasoned the soup with light soy sauce, but I find the soup too bland for my palate. So I thought of adding ikan bilis for a naturally flavourful and high-calcium soup base.
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Sometimes, I add glass noodles (tang hoon) for a quick one-dish meal. This soup is quick to cook because over simmering will result in either bitter ikan bilis broth or mushy melon (I prefer a light firmness to my melon), hence it should take only 15 minutes (20 minutes tops). Using disposable soup pouches to contain the ikan bilis saves time and effort – simply discard the pouches after cooking. The melon cubes and pork balls are all bite-sized, making this soup easy to consume.