Winter Melon Soup
For a more impressive presentation, purchase a whole winter melon and steam the soup inside the melon.
2 Chinese dried mushrooms
1 pound winter melon
3½ cups water
2½ cups chicken stock or 1 cup chicken broth mixed with 1½ cups water
½ cup barbequed pork, diced
2 slices ginger
1 teaspoon Chinese rice wine or dry sherry
1 pinch salt
Cut the stems off the dried mushrooms and soak in hot water for 20 minutes. Give the mushrooms a little squeeze to remove excess water and cut into thin slices.
Wash the winter melon and remove the green rind, seeds, and the pulp. Cut into slices approximately 2 inches long and ½ inch thick. In a large saucepan, add the winter melon to 3½ cups water and bring to a boil. Simmer for 20 minutes or until the melon is tender.
Add the chicken stock or chicken broth and water mixture, barbequed pork, dried mushrooms, and ginger.
Add the rice wine and salt. Simmer for another 15 minutes. Serve hot. Leave the ginger slices in or remove as desired.
Drink Your Soup!
The Chinese believe that cold drinks and hot food don't mix, so soup normally takes the place of a beverage at meals. It's customary in Chinese restaurants for the waitress to bring a steaming pot of tea as soon as you're seated, but traditionally tea was looked upon as a digestive aid, to be consumed at the conclusion of a meal.