For Chinese people, I can scarcely think of any time that soup is a main dish, unless it is filled with some sort of noodles or starch. Soup is usually enjoyed first or last in a meal (soup usually was eaten last in our household, but I think this part really depends on who you ask), and is much more liquidy and thin than any Western soup I can think of. There is a saying about soup in Chinese- liu liu feng, 溜溜缝, and I have to ask my mom/dad what it actually means, but I always take it to mean that soup fills the cracks in one’s belly after all that ‘dry’ food like rice/veg/meat. Usually but not always, Chinese-style soup is a thin, liquidy component to drink, as well as some things to eat- maybe some pork bits, some chicken, some mushrooms, vegetable. Regardless, it is way different than Western soups, so set your expectations accordingly.
When I went to Taiwan, I saw lots of street vendor menus reading 貢丸湯, or, gong wan soup. Gong wan? Gong wan (貢丸) are my favorite type of meatball to eat. With origins in Taiwan, gong wan are meaty and made of blended pork, and as opposed to tender meatballs that Westerners often strive for, gong wan are actually quite bouncy, if you will, in texture. It was and still is my favorite sort of meatball to eat with hot pot, so when you have hot pot, make sure to get a package (or three!) of gong wan.Where we are now in the Midwest, selection of frozen gong wan is limited (maybe because the majority of Chinese people here are from mainland China), so I hope to develop a recipe for homemade gong wan. In the meantime, frozen will have to do. If you can find (or make!) gong wan and skinny Chinese radish, you can make this tasty and easy soup.
My sister, BIL, and nephews/niece came over and we had dumplings, and I thought, hmm, dumplings are all ‘dry’- what would go with it that can help fill in those cracks? I remembered this soup from watching Taiwanese cooking shows on YouTube, so I had to make it.
This soup is souper simple, but I feel that it is quite refreshing and a light way to end the savory portion of any Chinese or Taiwanese meal. I hope you’ll make a pot of it and enjoy it with your dinner next time 🙂
Gong Wan Luo Bo Tang
Meatball Daikon Soup
12 ounces daikon, cut
8 ounces gong wan, defrosted
6 cups water
Salt to taste
Final add-ins: sesame oil, white pepper powder, minced Chinese celery, cilantro, or fried shallots
1) Cut the daikon into 1 1/2 inch chunks with the ‘rolling knife’ method
2) Cut an ‘X’ on each gong wan (optional, but cool!)
3) Add daikon, gong wan, and water into a saucepan. Bring to a boil, then simmer until the daikon are tender, about 45 min to an hour. Salt to taste.
4) Add desired garnishes last- pick all or some, depending on how you feel.
-If you have chicken or pork bones , feel free to toss one in as well.