The winter melon has a pleasing neutral flavour, and because of this, it is a great vegetable to use in soups, as it absorbs the flavour of the stock and ingredients. In this dish, winter melon is poached in xian dou jiang, a creamy, savoury soy bean milk with nutty undertones.
Winter melon1kg (2lb3oz)
Spring onions (scallions) 5g (⅙oz), sliced
Dried turnip10g (⅓oz), finely diced
Make salted soy bean milk a day in advance. Soak soy beans in water and leave overnight. The following day, blend soy beans with water. Strain soy milk mixture using a piece of cheesecloth and discard sediment. Heat over low heat and add stock and salt, stirring continuously to prevent soy milk from burning, and until salt is completely dissolved. Remove from heat and set aside.
Prepare dough fritters. Dissolve sugar, baking powder and sodium bicarbonate in enough water to make a paste. Pour into a large mixing bowl. Slowly add flour and mix, then add lye water and knead into smooth dough.
Roll dough out into a large, thin sheet. Cut dough into 10 x 1.5-cm (5 x ¾-in) lengths using a pastry cutter. Place one length of dough on top of another, then use a chopstick to press down on the middle section to meld both pieces together. Repeat for remaining dough.
Deep-fry dough over low heat until golden brown. Drain and cut into small cubes. Set aside.
Cut winter melon and scoop into balls with a melon baller. Reheat salted soy milk over medium heat, then add melon balls and cook until soft and tender to touch.
Remove melon balls and thread them onto bamboo skewers. Place in serving glasses, then pour in salted soy milk. Garnish melon skewers with fried fritter cubes, spring onions and dried turnip. Serve immediately.