Hainanese Mutton Soup

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Preparation info

  • Serves


    • Difficulty


Appears in

Chinese Heritage Cooking

Chinese Heritage Cooking

By Christopher Tan and Amy Van

Published 2018

  • About

On Hainan Island, this dish is traditionally enjoyed during the colder winter months for its tonic and warming properties. The authentic Hainanese recipe, made with meat from young animals of the Dongshan goat breed, is a pale, milky hue—the active lifestyle of these agile mountain-living goats is thought to endow their meat with rich amounts of collagen and protein. As the mutton available in Singapore is stronger-tasting and more likely to come from sheep rather than goats, local versions of this soup have evolved to use heavier seasonings and more herbs to cover up any gamey nuances. This recipe is closer to the Hainan original.


  • Cooking oil 1 Tbsp
  • Ginger 3 slices, bruised
  • Garlic 1 clove, halved
  • Red dates 10
  • Chinese angelica (dong kwai) 3 small fragments
  • White peppercorns ½ tsp
  • Fresh sugar cane 2 lengths, each about 12-cm (5-in), washed
  • Black fungus 15 g (½ oz)
  • Dried bean curd sheets 40 g ( oz)
  • Chinese wolfberries (kei chi) 2 Tbsp
  • Salt to taste


  • Young goat or spring lamb meat 800 g ( lb)
  • Mashed white fermented bean curd (foo yee) Tbsp
  • Shaoxing rice wine 2 Tbsp
  • Light soy sauce 2 tsp
  • Sugar 1 tsp


  • Goat or lamb bones 500 g (1 lb oz)
  • Water 3 litres (96 fl oz / 12 cups)


  1. Start preparations for meat a day ahead. Cut goat or lamb meat into large chunks, about 4-cm (1½-in) across. Trim off any fat. Wash meat well with lightly salted water, then drain. Combine meat with fermented bean curd, rice wine, light soy sauce and sugar and mix well. Cover and leave to marinate overnight, refrigerated.
  2. Make broth. Wash bones and drain. Bring a pot of water to a boil and blanch bones for 5 minutes, then drain. Combine bones with 3 litres (96 fl oz / 12 cups) fresh water in a clean pot. Bring to a boil, cover pot, leaving lid slightly ajar, lower heat and simmer for 1½ hours.
  3. Set a wok over medium heat. When wok is very hot, swirl in oil, add ginger slices, and stir-fry for 20 seconds. Add marinated meat and stir-fry for 2–3 minutes until cooked on the outside but not browned. Transfer meat to pot of simmering broth. Add red dates, Chinese angelica, peppercorns and sugar cane. Cover and simmer over very low heat for 2 hours.
  4. Soak black fungus in tepid water until softened, then drain and trim off any hard bits. Soak dried bean curd sheets likewise until softened, then drain and cut into 5-cm (2-in) pieces.
  5. Add black fungus, bean curd sheets and wolfberries to soup and simmer for 30–45 minutes longer until fungus is soft and tender. Season soup to taste with salt and serve hot.