Every time that I buy a wedge of fresh winter melon at the Asian market, I give consideration to how to cook it up before it gets neglected in the fridge. It is highly perishable and after it’s cleaned of seeds and the green peel sliced off, it can be sauteed with shitake mushrooms and chicken broth; or cut up and cooked in a classic winter melon soup.
So, today – while watching Nadal and Kyrgios slug it out at the Australian Open on TV, I took out a slab of smoked ham from the freezer and sliced up a three inch square piece of it into strips; made a broth of half chicken broth and half dashi, soaked about 7 dried shitake mushrooms until they were soft – sliced them up and added them along with slices of the winter melon sans the tough green outer skin.
This pot of ambrosia is now simmering on the stove. We’ll have it as a main course for tonight’s supper, along with some broiled teriyaki chicken legs. A cold salad of cucumber slices and wakame seaweed with soy, vinegar and honey should taste good as a contrast to the warm dishes.
Best of all, I’ll freeze whatever leftover winter melon soup there is and we’ll have it anytime we’d like it – and I’ll feel heartened knowing that it has all gone to good use!