When most vegetables go bad, they disintegrate and turn into gooey, sloppy messes in the vegetable drawer. Trust me, I know about this first hand. I'm talking about most vegetables. There is however, one vegetable that when it goes bad, gets even better. I'm talking about ridged gourd.
Now for anyone who says, "Say what? I've never heard of this," I say look around your bathroom. Chances are this tricky little specimen of the squash family is already hiding out there, cleverly disguised as a loofah! Yes, that high toned spa squash and butt of celebrity sex scandals, I'm looking at you.
here for the "Everything you've ever wanted to know (and more) about loofahs" page. I however, am more interested in the culinary rather than the business end of a loofah, so when I went shopping at the Asian market in Santa Rosa the other day, I was looking for the nicest, freshest, greenest ridged gourd I could find. I had a curry on my mind.
Weirdly enough the ridged gourd has been making quite a few public appearances lately on the famous "stump the chef" show Chopped. Just last weekend, a bunch of competitors were faced with a ridged gourd, or as they referred to it, Chinese Okra. It was one of those "talk back to the TV" moments for me. "I know what that is!!" I shouted. "Ridged Gourd! I could win this thing!!!"
The chefs looked stumped. Very few of them knew what to do with this strange vegetable. One even left the tough, ridged skin on and laid raw slices of it on the plate. I was giddy with self-esteem. Understand that this is coming from the person who when first confronted with a steamed bao bun ate the paper doiley it was sitting on. I take my self esteem where I can get it.
Chances are a ridged gourd can be found in most Asian or Middle Eastern markets as Chinese Okra, dodka, luffa patola, dishrag gourd or angled gourd. This is what it looks like in its' natural state. Unless you are a ruminant with several stomachs, don't try this at home kids.
Paula Wolfert does in a Moroccan salad with lemon juice and thyme. The important thing is to get that thick ridged skin off of it.
Ridged Gourd Curry
Here's what to do:
Peel, slice lengthwise and then chop crosswise 2 good sized ridged gourds (you may need 1 lb of zucchini.)
When the oil is hot add in 1 peeled, crushed shallot. Saute it until it becomes fragrant then add in:
1 chopped medium sized onion
1 whole green serrano chili slit down the middle
6 or so curry leaves
1 tsp turmeric
1 tsp of Kashmiri chili or 1/2 tsp cayenne mixed with 1/2 tsp paprika
The chopped ridged gourds
Salt to taste.
Once the water has evaporated add in:
1/2 cup of thick coconut milk
So how does this taste? Sweet and hot and creamy with a slight undertone of bitter. Just enough to keep it interesting. Also for extra bennies, ridged gourd is high in Vitamin C, zinc, iron and magnesium. Also fiber. Hey, anything that turns into a loofah as it ages better be! Exfoliate your insides. Eat Ridged Gourd! Anyway, this dish would be great with whatever squash is at hand, and I'm going to be trying it again soon with zucchini. Meanwhile what else is up? Some treats for the Holiday Weekend and a secret birthday take an Indian turn. Follow along on Twitter @kathygori