Friday, September 14, 2012

Hairy Gourd, Mungbean Vermicelli and Dried Shrimps - Recipe

Hairy gourd (or fuzzy melon) is a member of the gwâa family and you should know if you have read my latest posts that gwâas are in season.
Hairy gourd is called jit-gwâa (節瓜 joined-squash) or mòuh-gwâa (毛瓜 hairy- squash) in Cantonese. Its flesh tastes very much like zucchini but with a firmer texture. Its skin is very thin (to peel it just needs to be rubbed with the blunt edge of a knife) and it has a light layer of hair, hence its name: hairy gourd!

Hairy melon / mòuh-gwâa / 毛瓜

I wrote a number of posts on gwâas and gave recipes using: wax gourd (冬瓜 dûng-gwâa), chayote (佛手瓜 faht-sáu-gwâa), bitter melon (苦瓜 fú-gwâa), mouse gourd (老鼠瓜 lóuh-syú-gwâa) and cucumber (青瓜 chèng-gwâa).  
Hairy gourd is sometimes interchanged for wax gourd to make slow-boiled soups. It can also be stuffed (filled with shrimps or minced pork, Chinese mushrooms, etc) and steamed, braised or stir-fried with bean threads (mung bean vermicelli) and dried shrimps. In my opinion hairy gourd is best stir-fried. The following recipe is perfect for a summer/autumn dish as it is light and has subtle textures and flavours.

Hairy Gourd, Mung bean Vermicelli and Dried Shrimps

Hairy gourd and mung bean vermicelli stir-fry
  • 2 fresh hairy gourds  
  • (Optional: 1 rice bow of dried whitebait / silver fish)  * see photo below
  • 50g mung bean vermicelli (also called bean threads, cellophane noodles or Chinese vermicelli)
  • 1 shallot, thinly sliced
  • 2 slices of ginger cut into thin strips
  • 2 tbsp of shrimp sauce * see photo below
  • Ground white pepper
  • 1 tsp Chinese rice wine
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp white sugar
  • (Optional: chopped spring onion)
  1. Wash dried shrimps and dried fish and soak them in cold water for ½ hour. Drain and set aside.
  2. Soak mung bean vermicelli in hot water for a few minutes (longer if cold water). Cut in ½ (with scissors) the vermicelli.  Rinse in cold water and drain.
  3. Rub the hairy gourd with the blunt edge of a knife. Cut the melon lengthwise and then cut the 2 parts into very fine strips (the size of match- sticks).
  4. Heat oil in wok, add ginger, shallot, and stir until fragrant.  
  5. Add shrimp paste, stir for a while.
  6. Add dried fish, dried shrimps, stir for a while
  7. Add hairy melon, vermicelli and seasoning. Mix well.
  8. Cover wok and cook over low heat until hairy gourd is tender (~10-15 minutes). Add water if necessary.
  9. Transfer to dish. Top with chopped spring onion (optional).
  10. Serve hot.

Mung bean vermicelli / fan2 si1 / 粉絲 (literally power-thread)
Mung bean vermicelli is made with mung bean starch. Mung bean is called luhk-dauh 綠豆 (literally green bean) in Cantonese.

Slender silvery-white fish / Oriental whitebait
Ngàhn-yùh 銀魚 (silver-fish) / baahk-faahn-yùh白飯魚 (white-cooked rice-fish)

I’m using hâ-máih 蝦米 and hâ-jeung 蝦醬 that I bought at the shrimp sauce factory last time I went to Tai O. 

Dried shrimps hâ-máih 蝦米 (literally shrimp-rice)

Shrimp sauce hâ-jeung 蝦醬

This dish is very light. Besides it does not take a long time to prepare the ingredients and cook them into a delicious dish.
I like the different textures: soft bean threads and crunchy dried shrimps. The gourd absorbs the sauce and is bringing (the shrimp sauce) a pleasant flavour to an otherwise neutral-tasting dish.

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