If you love classic Chinese soups stewed with old cucumber or winter melon, you are likely to add hairy gourd to your list of favourite soups.
This is a recipe for hairy gourd with dried scallop soup. Hairy gourd is popular for its mild, sweet taste and is often stir-fried with complimentary ingredients such as garlic, dried shrimp and bean thread noodles or vermicelli.
Also part of the gourd family, hairy gourd is also often referred to as hairy melon, fuzzy melon, or ‘mo gwa’. As the name implies, this melon has fine hairs on its skin, a lovely colour that resembles a muted shade of jade green, and is similarly shaped like the old cucumber.Unlike old cucumber and winter melon, its seeds need not be scooped out or removed prior to cooking.
However, just a point to note that when cooking it in soups, unless you don’t mind seeds floating around in your soup, I always remove the seeds for a visually cleaner and pleasing presentation (especially if you are serving this to guests!).
In traditional Chinese medicine, hairy gourd has cooling properties and is consumed to expel heat, detoxify the body, promote diuresis and reduce inflammation. It is also nutritionally useful as a source of calcium for the body.
Here, hairy gourd is slow stewed with dried scallops, which are believed to have anti-cancer properties. I usually save the more expensive, good quality, larger sized scallops (like those from Japan) for a soup like this, and use the smaller variety for making home-cooked stocks and broths. But regardless of size, dried scallops do make the soup in this case, so be sure to add them in!
This recipe serves 3 to 4 persons.
300 gm Pork Ribs or Chicken
3 Large Dried Scallops, washed
6 Red Dates, pitted and washed
1 Hairy Gourd, peeled, washed, deseeded and cut into bite-size chunks
Chicken Stock or Water
Sea Salt and Pepper to taste
1. In a small saucepan, bring water to boil and parboil the pork ribs for a few minutes to remove scum and grit. Discard the water, and wash well.
2. Place all ingredients in a slow cooker. Pour in chicken stock or water until just enough to immerse all the ingredients. Cook on Auto or High setting for at least 4 hours. If cooking in a deep pot, bring all the ingredients in stock or water to a boil, then lower heat and let simmer for at least 3 hours, or longer, or until meat is fall-off-the-bone tender. Season to taste. Serve hot or warm.