Saturday, January 13, 2007
Sponge or Vegetable?
One of my recent first-time purchases was the ridged gourd (Luffa acutangula), a vegetable also known as angled loofah, Chinese okra, tori, and patola. Ridged gourds have soft, edible skin when young, taste somewhat like zucchini, and are popular in Asia. In California, a few of the farmers of Asian descent sell them at the Farmers' Market.
I used a south Indian recipe as a guide to cook the gourd, braising it with some grated coconut, then topping with a spice, chili and curry leaf infused oil. Perhaps the gourd was too old, or perhaps I didn't trim it properly, but in my finished dish half of the pieces were so fibrous that I could not eat them. I understood why one of the names of this vegetable is angled loofah! The actual loofah sponge, however, comes from the Luffa cylindrica gourd. The Hinata Diaries has a funny story about a trip to Egypt that includes a hungry tourist, a language barrier, and a cart of loofah gourds.
Back when I regularly wrote scientific papers for journals and conferences, my co-authors and I would always seem to include a clause at the end of the article saying "more research is needed." But with the ridged gourd, I don't feel that the clause is needed, as the flavor of the non-loofah-esque pieces which was not good enough to make it worth the gamble to buy this vegetable and possibly find much of it to be inedible.
Indexed under Ingredients
Technorati tags: vegetarian : Food