Friday, August 06, 2010

Summer Fuzzy Melon Stew

This summer is especially cooling in the Bay Area, California. Unusual - what I always hear over the news. I was deciding between posting a cold noodle summer-like dish and a warm supposedly-non-summer stew-like dish. I will save the cold noodle dish for later. Come the stew. Why save it for Fall or Winter, especially if it is just a quick, light stew fit for all seasons.

Everyone has his or her own vegetable stew recipe and dish. I have many and hard to tell you my favorite. Sometimes, I have one choice of vegetable (choy sum, chayote, okra, Chinese okra, bittermelon, cabbage, etc.) then mix it with tomatoes or mushrooms to give more depth in flavors. Other times, I like to mix everything in a pan like this Cabbage-Bok Choy-Carrot-Mushrooms Stir-Fry or everything in a pot like this Pineapple-Bell Peppers-Broccoli-Tomato Quick-Stew . Then this one: Fuzzy Melon*-Broccoli-Carrot-Mushrooms-Tomato Quick-Stew. Sorry for this kind of string-naming for a dish as I can't be naming every dish - mixed vegetables stir-fry, mixed vegetables soup and mixed vegetables stew. :O

*Fuzzy Melon or Hairy Melon (节瓜 JieGua;  别名:毛瓜 MaoGua) is a summer produce. Mainly moisture/water and Vitamin C, this melon is good for reducing "heatiness", and cools the body, relieving us from the summer heat. It also helps clear toxins from the body. They are suitable for stir-fry, soup, and can be steamed.

Into more vegetables lately and love ways and ways of mixing/cooking them differently. What is Quick-Stew and why that? As this kind of cooking is neither a Stir-Fry (it has more "liquid" than a stir-fry) nor a Soup (it has less "liquid" than a soup); and not even technically defined as a Stew (it is not cooked for long hours and does not have thickened gravies), I can only call it a Quick-Stew at this time: less soupy than soup and cooks quicker than a conventional stew (I do not like the idea of cooking/stewing my vegetables for too long - they lose their nutrition, ya?). Ahhhhhh, whatever the name.

Mixed Vegetables Quick-Stew
Ingredients: 1/4 medium onion, thinly sliced; 2 cloves garlic, finely minced; 2-3 thin slices of ginger, finely minced; pinch of cumin and fennel; 1tsp curry powder; 2 small carrots, sliced at the bias to bite-sizes; 1 small fuzzy melon* (a.ka. hairy melon, fuzzy squash. Available in some Asian supermarkets in the USA), peeled and cut to bite-sizes; a few broccoli florets, blanched; 1 tomato, cut to bite sizes; 6 crimini mushrooms, diced to bite-size; 3-4 pieces woodear mushrooms (black fungus); salt and pepper to taste

Directions: Add 1 tbsp olive oil in pot/pan and when slightly heated, add in ginger, onions and garlic and fry briskly. Add in cumin and fennel to get it toasted at the same time. Add in curry powder, then tomatos and carrots and mix well. Add the melon/gourd, mushrooms, also mix well then add some water (enough to just submerge all the ingredients) and allow them to simmer at low-medium heat. When the melon/gourd is cooked tender (color changes from white-opaque to white-transclucent), everything is almost cooked. Add salt and pepper to taste and serve warm.

I find it completely satisfying to eat just that, as a meal and it is so well-balanced in savory, sweet-tangy and spice flavors.

How you find such quick-stew dishes and meals? Maybe you can tell me your favorite one-pot vegetarian dish.

It is my first fuzzy melon quick-stew Friday Firsts / and it works beautifully!

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