So, I intended make winter melon soup but I accidentally got opo squash instead. It looks similar but is smaller and has a eggplant-like texture when you cut into it. Either way, I bought the opo squash at the discount veggie section of Hong Kong Supermarket (formerly Dynasty Supermarket) on Hester St. in Chinatown. It’s the section that all the little old ladies flock around because the supermarket prices down bundles of vegetables/fruit that are a little ripe but still good. These babies were perfectly fine and were ONLY A DOLLA (what?? yes a DOLLA). These ladies are smart.
Also at Hong Kong Supermarket was pork neck for $00.75/lb, which isn’t a discount price but actually the normal price for a very inexpensive cut of meat. So for about $1.50 in pork and $1.00 in opo squash, I made myself a pretty damn fine soup. Here’s how you make it in a crock pot:
Rinse 2lbs of chopped pork neck and par-boil for 10 minutes. While that’s happening, char half an onion and a thumb-sized piece of ginger over the stove for 10 minutes (I liked this trick from the pho broth recipe) and slice up one opo squash into big chunks. Take out the pork and rinse it again under cold water to get all pieces that will cloud your soup off. Once that’s done, put everything into a slow cooker with about 2.5 quarts of water and set it on low over-night. You can also throw in dried shitake mushrooms to amp this up if you’d like.
The next day, the broth should be a clear amber color and the meat should be fall-off-the-bone-tender. Skim off any scum or sieve the whole thing to keep the broth super clear, and throw away the onion and ginger.
And there you go! Your basic opo squash or winter melon broth. Before serving, add some salt/soy sauce, a splash of mijiu (my family uses only this brand of imported Taiwanese rice wine) and a splash of fish sauce.
I made mine with somen noodles, tofu, shitake mushrooms, and a itty bitty bit of sesame oil. Cut your opo squash smaller than this! At this point I still thought it was winter melon so I expected it to dissolve more.