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Golden Pigeon with Winter Melon

600 g Winter melon
12 Chinese ham slices (0.5 cm thick)
2 Young pigeons (approx 500 g each or a 1-kg chicken)
4 Ginger root slices
4 Shallots (white parts)
Cooking oil

1/2 c Light soy sauce
1/8 c Dark soy sauce

Stewing Seasoning
1 ts Oyster sauce
1 1/2 ts Salt
1/4 ts Sugar
4 c Stock

1 c Stock
1 1/2 tb Cornstarch (mixed well with 2 tbs water)

Garnish (optional
10 Sprigs of flowering chives

To prepare:

Mix the marinade and coat pigeons with it for 2 to 3 minutes.

Remove skin of winter melon and cut 12 slices about 5 cms wide,

3 cms long and 2 cms thick. Make a slit sideways on the longest side of each piece and insert one ham slice.

To cook:

Deep-fry pigeons over a medium flame until golden.

Heat the wok or pot, add 1 tbs oil. When it is very hot, stir- fry ginger and shallots for 1 minute. Then add above stewing seasoning ingredients and pigeons, cover and braise over a slow flame for 20 to 25 minutes. Remove pigeons.

Reserve 1 cup of the pigeon braising stock, to make sauce later.

Double the remaining braising stock's liquid volume by adding water, then immerse winter melon slices. Cook for 5 minutes, then turn off heat. Cover wok, leave winter melon slices for a further 5 minutes (thus ensuring they do not lose their shape through excess direct cooking).

Mix sauce ingredients with reserved cup of pigeon braising stock and heat.

To present:

Cut pigeons into pieces and arrange across serving dish.

Place 6 overlapping winter melon slices on each side of pigeons.

Pour sauce over, and garnish with flowering chives.

Makes 12 servings.

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