Thursday, July 22, 2010

冬瓜排骨薏米老火汤 (Wintermelon pork rib and barley soup)

At work, i finally get to know the difference of some Chinese words that didn't made sense to me.

老火汤, what is it? Directly translates to Old Fire/Flame Soup. It means to boil the soup for long hours (3-6h) and the result is a cloudy and flavourful soup. This type of soup is highly nutritious as the nutrients are all cooked into the soup. So people who are on a liquid diet (toothache, wisdom tooth surgery, recently tighten braces) should consider this type of soup in a Chinese restaurant.

I can't use the exact same recipe i used for my workplace as the strength of flame for home kitchen is really different from industrial kitchen.

Here is my adaption.

Makes about 4L (12-15 servings)

Ingredient (1)
1.5kg Pork rib
100g dried Chinese Yam or 2kg Fresh Chinese Yam
1 tsp white peppercorn
10g Tangerine peel
10g Ginger
50g Dried Scallop

Ingredient (2)
1.5kg Wintermelon
100g Barley

- Using a 10L stock pot, fill it with water to 70% full, bring to boil
- Blanch the pork rib to remove impurity. To properly blanch pork rib, bring the water to boil then add in pork ribs. let the water boil again then remove the impurities (Scums) that is floating on top. after clearing the impurities let it continue to boil for another 1min until you can make sure there is not much impurities left. Then strain it and put it under running tap water. This is an important step to ensure the soup have not unpleasant porky smell.
- Put ingredient (1) into the stock pot of boiling water and leave it to boil for 3h. Check on it regularly to top up water for the first 2h keeping it at least 70% full
- After 3h, add in Ingredient (2) and boil for another 1h30mins. Make sure it reduces till about 50% of the water level. Due to the fact that wintermelon disintegrate easily that why put in only in the final hour of cooking. And also barley, it produces loads of bubbles when boiling because i don't wash them. if u got high quality barley and u wash them u are washing away money!
- You are done here. But i love to keep it in a slow cooker at "keep warm" so as time pass the flavour is better :)

To serve, simply add in salt to taste. But by default the soup is pretty sweet due to dried scallop and barley. Has a light body and goes well with chinese food that are tends to be oily or salty (梅菜扣肉,东坡肉).
If you love to have more wintermelon, cut them into batons, slice a few piece of ginger then boil them for about 5-7 min.

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