DAIRY-FREE / GLUTEN-FREE
May 25th , 2021
This simple and nutritious soup is light yet nothing short of flavors. Enjoy the intense umami taste from the fresh scallops and Kombu kelp, and the subtle aroma of the winter melon while sipping the soup. Very few seasonings are used; there is no need to mess around with real and fresh ingredients.
Winter melon (wax gourd) is believed to be a mild liver and kidney tonic in Chinese food therapy, and aid the digestion of fattier foods. Apart from a subtle refreshing aroma, winter melon does not have a strong taste of its own, and when cooked, its porous flesh will soak up the flavors of seasoning and other ingredients, making it extremely versatile. The winter melon I used was from a friend’s garden and the skin is smooth without scars, so I didn’t peel it (since vegetable skin is often where nutrients concentrate).
Kombu kelp (昆布) ‘s strong umami flavor and its robust texture make this seaweed species a great choice for soups and stews. You can find dried Kombu sheets in most Asian stores; dried Kombu are ready to use after soaking in water for just a few minutes.
Scallops: For this dish I used frozen scallops for convenience since I always have them in my freezer. Frozen scallops might not work for every dish but they do perfectly fine for soups. Ideally, thaw the scallops in an airtight container in the fridge 12 to 24 hours before cooking to help preserve the texture ( well, I confess I am not one of the virtuous people who plan their meals 24 hours in advance, and I have thrown frozen scallops directly into boiling soups many times, and they taste just fine). A word of caution: no matter whether you use fresh or frozen scallops, make sure the batch you buy has one ingredient only – scallop, and nothing else. You can find good advice on “dry” or “wet” scallops on the Internet.
WINTER MELON, SCALLOP AND KOMBU SOUP
MAKE 4 servings PREPARATIONS 10 min COOKING 15 min
- 600g winter melon, cut into large bite-sized cubes
- 16 scallops, fresh or thawed
- 1 sheet of rehydrated Kombu kelp, cut into large slices
- 1 tbsp cooking oil
- 1 thumb sized ginger, sliced
- 1 or 2 spring onions, sliced
- salt to taste
- Heat a wok or a large pan, add the oil, sauté the ginger and half of the spring onion slices until fragrant, about 10 seconds. Add winter melon cubes, stir fry for a minute, add hot water to cover the winter melon pieces, add the Kombu slices, bring the liquid to boil then leave it on medium heat with the wok covered, until the winter melon pieces appear translucent and tender, about 10 minutes. Stir occasionally.
- Turn up the heat, add the scallops into the boiling liquid, stir a few times (to help even cooking), and cook until the scallops are opaque and cooked through, about 1 minute. Immediately remove the wok from heat. Add the remaining spring onions. Serve.