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Old Cucumber Soup

Old Cucumber Soup
Old Cucumber Soup 老黄瓜汤

In Chinese Herbology, foods have ‘yin’ and ‘yang’ properties. Yin foods have ‘cooling’ properties while yang foods, on the other hand, have ‘heaty’ properties. Some foods are ‘neutral’. Since ancient times, the Chinese firmly believed that diet (along with other factors like stress, climate and lifestyle) plays an important part in acheiving a balanced ying/yang quotient for an individual. So in a country like Singapore, where it is warm & humid all year round, consuming cooling foods to counter the ‘heat’ – such as this old cucumber soup – is definitely a must. I think this soup is also very beneficial for those in other countries who are experiencing summer now.

Old Cucumber Soup

The Chinese name of this vegetable (yes, I know technically it is a fruit, but I don’t think it’s wrong to call it a vegetable in cooking :P) is 老黄瓜, literally translated as ‘old yellow cucumber’. According to this site, old cucumber is actually matured cucumber, hence its brown, wrinkled and hard skin. Looking at its dried-out skin, you might never have guess that consuming it is good for the skin and helps prevent aging! It is also high in dietary fiber, calcium, iron and rich in vitamin A, B6, and C. So, are you sold on the wonderful properties of this soup yet? If you are, let’s start cooking!

(Serves 3)

– One small to medium size Chinese old cucumber
– 1.3 litres of water
– 10 red dates
– 6 dried scallops
– 200g pork ribs
–  1 piece dried cuttlefish
– 1 sweet corn, cut to small pieces
– 1 medium carrot, peeled and cut (
– salt, to taste

1. Scrub the skin of the old cucumber clean and cut it in half, length-wise. Scoop out the seeds using a spoon. Cut into smaller chunks.
2. In a small pot, blanch the pork ribs in boiling water for a few minutes (so as to remove the scum bits). Drain the pork ribs and set aside.
3. In a soup pot, add old cucumber chunks, blanched pork, water, red dates, dried scallops, dried cuttlefish, sweet corn and carrots. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer the soup over low heat for about 40 minutes. For best results, keep warm in thermal pot for four hours prior to serving. Season to taste with salt.

Cooking Notes

1. The reason for leaving the skin on the old cucumber chunks is to prevent the flesh from turning mushy after cooking.
2. Some people like to consume the seeds so if you do, then you don’t have to scoop them out.

Adding a piece of dried cuttlefish (along with the dried scallops, red dates & other ingredients) makes the soup sweeter.

De-seeding old cucumber
Scoop out the seeds using a spoon.

Old Cucumber Soup

Another ‘Yin’ soup
Watercress Soup

Further Reading about Yin and Yang Foods
Yin & Yang of Chinese Cooking
Chinese Food Theraphy
Yin & Yang: balancing health with food

This recipe is submitted to Weekend Herb Blogging, a food blog event started by Kalyn’s Kitchen and hosted this week by Archana’s Kitchen.

36 comments on “Old Cucumber Soup”

  1. Amazing soup. I love chinese clear soups :-) I came here through What´s For Lunch, Honey? I am hosting an event dedicated to trying foods from other bloggers. Meeta is in the spotlight for July. I really hope you can participate :-)

  2. How interesting! I have never heard of old yellow cucumbers before. How did you discover this unusual vegetable? (Or fruit, whichever! ^-^)

  3. This is such a flavoursome soup. Especially with the dried cuttlefish!

  4. Thanks for that primer on yin and yang foods. I think I definitely need for yin foods because it’s been so hot lately. Thanks for sharing this recipe. Am also looking at the watercress one: will make that soon.

  5. I’m too yang!

    Problem is, I don’t really like yin foods all that much… or perhaps I should say, I like yang foods a lot more! ;D

    But, I *do* like cucumbers in soup! =D

  6. The first time I cooked this soup was a flop. lol

    I forgot to scoop out the seeds. Added too many red dates, and the soup was sour instead. Eeks. And some actually told me some red dates are sour??

    I like that you add dried cuttlefish in it. Definitely tastes better.

  7. Zlamushka: Thanks! I’ll check out the event on your blog :)

    Katie: Hee, these cucumbers are actually very common in Singapore (and in South East Asia too, I guess) :wink:

    daphne: Yep the dried cuttlefish sure adds a lot of favour to soups :-)

    js: Hope u like the watercress soup when u try it :-)

    ts: Hee, I love yang foods a lot more too, especially the sinful, oily, deep fried stuffs!! :oops: :up:

    didally: My sis actually purposely leave the seeds and eat them! :P Hmm I’ve never tried but maybe can use honey red dates instead? I’m sure they won’t be sour, heh :lol:

  8. What does dried cutterfish taste like? I have seen live ones on TV before, but I wasn’t aware that they were used in cooking.

  9. I can never fully grasp the concept of heaty and cooling. I think it’s really a state of mind. As for me if it’s delicious it’s going straight into my mouth and this soup with all the yummy ingredients..who cares if it’s heaty or cooling!

  10. Pingback: Weekend Herb Blogging (WHB)( July 14 - July 20) | Archana's Kitchen

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