Winter Melon Soup with Pork Balls

Winter Melon Soup with Pork Balls Recipe

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Winter melon soup with pork balls is a Chinese soup I can rely on on busy days. Unlike my other Chinese soups which typically use chicken or pork, this recipe uses ikan bilis broth as the soup base. As a result, it is relatively easier and quicker because without the meat, you can skip the step of blanching them before cooking, or simmering the soup for some time to extract the sweetness of the meat.

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This soup is very healthy, high in calcium (thanks to the ikan bilis) and has cooling properties since winter melon is known to combat “heatiness” according to TCM. This recipe was adapted from my mum’s original winter melon soup. When she cooked this, she used plain water and later seasoned the soup with light soy sauce, but I find the soup too bland for my palate. So I thought of adding ikan bilis for a naturally flavourful and high-calcium soup base. 

Winter Melon Soup with Pork Balls Recipe

Sometimes, I add glass noodles (tang hoon) for a quick one-dish meal. This soup is quick to cook because over simmering will result in either  bitter ikan bilis broth or mushy melon (I prefer a light firmness to my melon), hence it should take only 15 minutes (20 minutes tops). Using disposable soup pouches to contain the ikan bilis saves time and effort – simply discard the pouches after cooking. The melon cubes and pork balls are all bite-sized, making this soup easy to consume.Pork balls (before cooked)

Winter Melon Soup with Pork Balls

If you do not have disposable soup poach, use a slotted ladle to remove and discard the ikan bilis after simmering for 15 minutes.


  • 700g piece of winter melon cut to large cubes (buy the disc section for easier cutting)
  • 1.2 litres water
  • 100g ikan bilis (anchovies) 江鱼仔
  • 5 slices of ginger
  • 200g minced pork (or chicken)
  • 1/2 tsp light soy sauce

Marinade ingredients (A)

  • 1/2 tbsp light soy sauce
  • 1/2 tbsp corn starch
  • 1/2 tbsp Shaoxing wine
  • 1/2 tbsp sesame oil
  • dash of white pepper


  1. Marinade the pork with the ingredients in (A). Shape into individual meat ball (each about 1 tbsp size). Set aside.
  2. Trim and discard the skin and inner seeds of winter melon. Cut winter melon flesh to large cubes.
  3. Rinse ikan bilis and place them in disposable soup pouches. Place soup pouches, water, winter melon cubes, and ginger in a soup pot. Bring to a boil and then simmer for about 15 minutes.
  4. Squeeze out the excess broth from the soup pouches and discard. Season with light soy sauce if needed.
  5. When ready to serve, bring stock to a simmer again, then add pork balls, one at a time, making sure they don’t stick to one another. Cook for about 3 minutes.

Noob Cook Tips

  1. Do not simmer the ikan bilis and winter melon cubes for too long as over simmering will result in a bitter broth and mushy melon flesh.
  2. Iikan bilis have varying degree of saltiness. Adjust the seasonings at the end (using light soy sauce or salt) to taste.