Deep summer came. Loofah seems to have appeared in markets all over the place, and I believe I have started cooking them almost weekly. We have several varieties of loofah here, mostly slender resembling the shape of a thick, long cucumber. The one I cook most, probably is this angled or ridged loofah (see gwa 絲瓜 ), which comes with longitudinal ridges and measuring up to 60 to 70cm long.
Most of the time, I cook loofah by stir-frying or by boiling it in soups. A less frequent but an adorable way I too enjoy, is to have it briefly braised in a soy milk soup. It is a pity that eateries only (or usually) do it with broth, so when I had some leftover homemade soy milk, I hesitated no more. For convenience, simply replace homemade soy milk by bottled soy milk or by the soup made from beancurd skin (without sugar added).
Although I used angled loofah (also spelled in many different ways such as lofah, luffa, or lufa), you may try this recipe with other type of it (also known as beerakaaya in India and Chinese okra squash in some places). Loofahs are suitable for making this because their spongy meats are pretty absorbent, enabling it to take on much flavors from the soy milk, apart from tasting mildly sweet itself.
Sweet soy milk is delicious, so does its savory versions and this is one of them. Good thing is, without any sugar added, this will make you a low-calorie dish, not to mention that it is both gluten-free and vegetarian. To admit though, I do add meat to it sometimes.
The way preparing angled loofah might be somewhat different from other gourds, but it is simple.
How to peel angled loofah
Chop off few centimeters from the stem, and trim the end a bit. Remove ridges from loofah with a vegetable peeler, then scrape skin lightly with a sharp small knife with some green skin remain (that will give us more crunchiness). Sometimes, I use a brush, just depending on what is handy.
How to slice loofah
Cut the first slice diagonally into roughly 5cm chunks. Roll the loofah about 90 degree, make another cut, again diagonally of the same length. After making each cut, rotate the squash until reaching the other end. Such way of cutting is not owned by me only, most Chinese cooks do it the same way, especially for stir-fries.
The angled loofahs we eat are the young ones. When they become really mature, or aged, their spongy meat will turn fiberous and can be used for bathing, washing dishes or scrubbing – to take a look at it, dive in the post I had on Malacca, Malaysia.
Peel, wash and slice angled gourd.
Heat oil in wok over medium heat. Sauté garlic until lightly brown (I reserved some of it for garnishing), toss in gourd slices. Stir to coat them with oil and garlic, about half a minute. Add salt and stir well.
Pour in soy milk, keep stirring. Observe closely the consistency of soy milk. If it is thickened too quickly when heated, then thinner it with some water. Cover for about a minute or until the gourd is tender. On the contrary, if it is rather runny, then boil it longer with lid off (because I personally like retaining some crunchiness). That is, you may adjust the simmering time to achieve your desire consistency and tenderness.
Season with ground white pepper, and add more salt to taste, if required.
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