Authentic Winter Melon Soup
|Stewing chicken||1 Large, cut up|
|Pork hock||1 (Fresh)|
|Water||2 1⁄2 Quart|
|Whole chicken breast||1|
|Winter melon||10 Pound, well shaped (1 Whole)|
|Dried lotus seeds||1⁄2 Cup (8 tbs)|
|Dried tangerine peel||1 1⁄2 Inch|
|Virginia ham/Italian prosciutto||1 Ounce|
|Fresh root ginger slice||2|
|Sliced water chestnuts||1⁄2 Cup (8 tbs)|
|Sliced bamboo shoots||1⁄2 Cup (8 tbs)|
Cover the stewing chicken and pork hock with the water; bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer about 45 minutes.
Add the whole chicken breast and simmer 15 minutes longer.
Cut the breast from the stewing chicken and remove it and the other breast from the soup, set aside.
Continue cooking the remaining chicken and pork hock for several hours, or until a rich broth forms, strain, discarding chicken and pork.
Cut top off melon and reserve; scoop out seeds and stringy portions.
Soak the mushrooms, lotus seeds, and tangerine peel in water to cover for about 15 minutes.
Trim fat off the ham and dice the lean meat into the melon.
Wash the duck gizzards and add with the ginger.
Drain and rinse mushrooms; slice and add with the lotus seeds and whole tangerine peel.
Add water chestnuts, and bamboo shoots if used.
Skim fat off chicken broth, reheat it, and season with sherry, sugar, and salt and pepper to taste.
Set melon in a bowl, arrange twine harness, and lower into the cooking pan (with a rack in the bottom).
Pour broth inside melon to fill it 3/4 full; reserve any extra broth.
Put top on melon, add water to outer pan to come about 2 inches up on the bottom of the bowl.
Cover pan and steam over low heat about 3 or 4 hours.
Cut the chicken breasts into about 1/2-inch cubes and add to soup just before removing from heat.
Lift melon, still sitting on bowl, out of the kettle; remove duck gizzards, tangerine peel, and ginger.
Spoon some of the soft flesh inside the melon into each bowl when you serve.
Refill melon with any extra chicken broth (heated).