Monday, September 29, 2008

Fuzzy Melons

I love fuzzy melons. In Chinese, they’re called mao gwa or tseet gwa. I love them and bring back lots of childhood memories of my mom cooking them.

They look like a little like a zucchini—but thicker, and covered with fuzz. Fuzzy melon is actually a gourd, and closely related to the winter melon (which I also love!) The flesh is mildly flavored. You can purchase them in Asian markets. Here’s a photo of one:

I bought two melons this weekend, for only about $3, and made an amazing dish and yummy soup.

First, I made a soup. I’m not talking your typical cream based soup. And I’m not talking about a typically ‘American’ chicken noodle soup. I’m talking about Chinese soup! These types of soups are a normal part of a Chinese meal—and usually taken for granted and nothing special. Well, I have always loved Chinese soups. And ever since living on my own a few years ago, I’ve found it relaxing to make a big pot of soup. It’s something I find myself doing a lot of weekends now. Reminds me of home. Reminds me of my mom. So this pot of soup was made with chicken, carrots and one and half of my fuzzy melons. It cooked for hours, and when it was done? A light and sweet soup. Just like mom use to make.

I tried getting a picture of the soup on the stove--but it was too steamy!

My second dish? Another childhood favorite. It’s basically a sir fry of fuzzy melon, cut up into thin stripes, and cooked with cellophane noodles (sometimes known as Chinese vermicelli, bean threads or glass noodles.) They come in a dried format, and you soak them in hot water to soften them up. I let it sit for a little while, then drain the water and they’re ready to use. In order to give both the fuzzy melon and cellophane noodles some flavor, I cook it with chicken stock. I pour a little bit in, then let the stock cook out so that there’s no liquid. Then I add more stock again, and cook it, repeat.

Here's the photo of the melon and cellophane noodles. This was about midway through cooking, the melon gets a little bit more color as it cooks (and I splash in a little soy sauce)

It’s so absolutely delicious. Fall is upon us, and I just know that winter's around the corner...I’ll be making more and more of my favorite comfort foods. Stay tuned!

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