To Italo Calvino, the world is an artichoke. "The world's reality presents itself to our eyes as multiple, prickly, and as densely superimposed layers. Like an artichoke. ...to continue to unpeel it like a never-ending artichoke, discovering more and more new dimensions..."
I love reading Italo and I am fascinated by the way he sums this world as a food (but he's an Italian, after all). Yet I have the gut feeling that if he were living in Hong Kong like I do since childhood, he would more likely to say the world is a bowl of Cantonese soup. Like, seeing how endless brilliant and hearty possibilities can be achieved with simple ingredients.
Soup for today: Chicken and conch soup with honey dew melon. A soup that is good for your kidneys and skin. Serves 3-4.
- Clean the conch feet.
- Cut the melon in halves, discard the seeds and cut cubes from it.
- Blanch the pork, the chicken, the conch feet and the chicken feet for about 3-4 minutes to wipe out scum like blood and grease.
- Boil the water, add all ingredients except the melon cubes and cook to boil in high heat.
- Simmer gently for another 2 hours.
- Skim fat from the soup, add the melon cubes, cook in low heat for another 45 minutes.
1. Get an old chicken -- they have much more flavor. An old 'stewing' hen is excellent for this soup. The young supermarket hens, though less greasy, have no flavor at all.
2. Unlike the dried conch feet I once did here, which ready for use right away, we need to swab the swarthy and squishy dirt away from the fresh conch feet. A good way to do this, as told by my beloved fishmonger, is to rub it with your damnedest effort with sea salt on the cutting board -- one by one.
3. Remember to skim fat from the soup before you dunk in the melon cubes. An easy way to do this that I learnt lately is to toss a handful of ice cubes and skim them out with the fat that congeals around them.