Take a trip to your grandparent’s house, and you’ll be greeted by the sight of loving elders as well as the smell of a brewing soup from the kitchen. A look in the soup pot will show slices of brown cucumbers, pork carcasses and a myriad of herbs floating about.
As beautiful as your family love, this clear soup packs a punch in nutritional benefits and beckons second and third servings. Believe me, but there’s a reason why your grandmother insists on serving you an extra hot plate at the dinner table. Well, you will crave for more of this dish.
What is the Chinese Cucumber Stew Chicken Soup?
In most Asian households, it’s often called Old Cucumber Soup. The recipe varies from each family, but the main ingredients usually boil down to these few key elements – Chinese cucumbers, pork and chicken chunks and a wild combination of Chinese herbs.
Now, hold on. What is an old cucumber? Is it the same as the regular green cucumber?
The answer is no. Old cucumber is aged or matured green cucumber. In China, they’re known as yellow gourds instead. On the outside, it’s brown, wrinkly and carries a slightly leathery texture. The inside flesh is whitish and soft.
As old cucumbers are generally milder in taste, the broth gets its rich flavours from the accompanying ingredients, which can sometimes include sweet corn, dried dates, goji berries and dried oysters or scallops for a hint of saltiness.
To prepare the soup, one only needs to ‘dump’ all the ingredients in a large pot and let it boil. The usual simmering time can range from three to four hours (some going as high as eight hours in a slow cooker), but the consensus remains the same: the longer it sits in the post, the darker and stronger the flavours of the soup will taste.
Nutritional Benefits of Chinese Cucumber Stew Chicken Soup
Taste aside; we can’t discuss Chinese soups without considering its effect on the human body. For starters, a serving of Old Cucumber Soup contains 224 calories and is packed with dietary fibre, calcium, iron and rich in vitamin A, B6 and C.
In Chinese cuisine, the idea of Yin and Yang is often called to mind. Some foods are considered to be cooling (Yin), and some contain more heat (Yang). In Malaysia’s humid climate, Old Cucumber Soup is famous because cucumbers are known to be cooling foods, which can help balance the body’s temperature in the heated environment.
Variations on the Chinese Cucumber Stew Chicken Soup
The great thing about Chinese soups is that it’s also customisable depending on the ingredients you have. It is also known to be very healthy food and super easy to prepare.
Health-conscious folks can opt to use collagen-rich food, like chicken feet, instead of regular pork bones. Our Muslim friends need not feel left out as the halal alternative would require replacing all pork ingredients with chicken.
Some recipes call for the use of barley to replace peanuts, while others recommend using cured ham if dried shellfish is not your cup of tea.
Where to Find Chinese Cucumber Stew Chicken Soup in Malaysia
You can expect to see Chinese Cucumber Soups in most Chinese restaurants. Some stalls even serve them as a complimentary side to a meal.
Visit foodpanda to learn more about other beautiful Chinese dishes.