There are two foods that are integral to a Chinese home cooked meal- rice and soup. Deeply rooted in Southern Chinese culture, the soups are known as “Food Therapy” (食療) due to their various health benefits that range from detoxification to lowering blood pressure. For a casual weekday night, this nutritious Old Cucumber Soup or 老黄瓜汤 is a perfect low-calorie dinner for unwinding after a long day of work or school as it both comforts and cools down the body.
The soup gets its nutritional benefits from the old cucumber or “lao huang gua” which disintegrates into the soup during the cooking process. High in dietary fibre, iron, and calcium, the gourd is also said to have anti-aging properties too! #Tip: when choosing old cucumbers, choose those with darker and more wrinkled skins as they have a richer taste and aroma.
For the ingredients, you will need old cucumber, soft bone pork, pearl sweet corn, dried scallops, dried cuttlefish, red dates, wolfberries, salt, soya sauce, and water.
Firstly, prepare the old cucumber and corn for the soup.
Cut the old cucumber into half, lengthwise, and use a spoon to scrape out the seeds.
Then cut each half of the old cucumber into four large pieces, so you will have eight pieces in total. #Tip: leave the skin on intact to prevent the flesh from entirely disintegrating into the soup during the long cooking process.
For the pearl sweet corn, remove the jacket and silk from it. Pearl sweet corn is sweeter than regular sweet corn which makes it more suitable for boiling soup as it will greatly enhance the flavour. When choosing your corn, ensure that your kernels are plump and not dry as that indicates that the corn will be juicy when bitten into.
Use the heel of the knife to cut the corn into four large pieces. #Tip: it is hard to cut through corn entirely, hence simply cut into the core of the corn and lightly twist from left to right to break it apart.
The second step is to boil the pork to remove the scums from it.
In a pot, boil some water and turn it down to a simmer before adding the pork and let it cook for three minutes. When the meat is firm and scums have risen to the surface of the water, discard the water and give the pork a good rinse to remove any remaining scums or impurities.
For the third step, it is time to boil the soup.
Add all the ingredients and water, except for the seasonings and wolfberries, into a clean pot. #Tip: cut the red dates into half so that the natural sweetness can seep into the soup quicker.
Bring the soup up to a boil then cover the pot with a lid and reduce the heat to let the soup simmer for at least two hours so that all the flavours of the ingredients can seep into the soup and make the pork tender. To reduce the cooking time, you can use an electric pressure cooker which will take only 45 minutes or a Quicker Cooker which will take one hour.
Remember to check the water level of the soup every 20 minutes to ensure that it does not dry up. Add 250ml of hot water each time the water level gets low so that the heat is kept constant and be sure not to add too much or the soup will be diluted.
When the soup is cooked, add in the wolfberries, soya sauce, and salt. Pour the soup into a bowl and your dinner is ready!
Peiwen’s Meal-for-two was created for newly-weds and couples who have just moved into their new homes, have a beautiful kitchen to work in, but have no idea what to whip up. These recipes are by Loo Peiwen, herself, who is an avid home cook, has a passion in culinary, and enjoys creating dishes using her love for food. These recipes have been tried and tested, are authentic, delicious, and perfect for two! These meals are easily achievable, just simply follow our steps and instructions! Most importantly, you can be sure both of your appetites would be satiated at the end of the day!
Get the full recipe below!