W hat happens when I become bored? If my schedule for the day is to remain indoors then I would bake up a storm; but, if I happened to be dressed, I like to kill time at the Asian market. You never know what you can find or become inspired with at those fascinating Asian markets. And considering that I’ve become bitten by the Asian cuisine bug this week, I bought a few items to try. From left to right, we have the following: bottle gourd, bok choy, and a banana blossom.
Three items, three meals, and three times a satisfied tummy.
Banana Bloom with Toor Dal
I saw this a while back and thought to myself: “Who on earth would eat a banana flower? I wonder what it tastes like..” So out of spontaneity I bought a small one to try. The Verdict: Not bad. I enjoyed this edible flower that resembled collard greens in both taste and texture but I need to perfect the method of preparation.
Tamarind Curry Stew featuring Bottle Gourd
This was super yummy! I had ventured off to the other Asian market (I’m so fortunate to have two close by!) and bought the tamarind in addition to three succulent white nectarines (my new addiction), cardamom to add to my ever evolving spice collection, and a few other items. I love the fact that everything is so rich, fruitful, and cheap. Those three words combined in a sentence are very rare to cross. Cheap and good - wha? But, anyway, because of the potatoes in this recipe and me growing sick of rice, I just doubled my potato. Adjust according to your preference for, after all, that’s how new recipes are created. I also like my curry more on the dry side but if you like more liquid, feel free.
Bottle Gourd is a cross between a zuchini and an eggplant in my opinion. It’s texture, once cooked, resembled zuchini with its almost blandness in taste but prior to cooking it’s sort of spongy like an eggplant. Although, it does not oxydize since I froze the unused portions of the fresh gourd immediately after cutting and it’s flesh (since I last checked) remains white. I’ll see when I return if it still remains white. Despite the untraditional uses, I was thinking of using it as an eggplant substitute in baba ganoush, moussaka, or even in the style of baingan bharta. Mm..baingan bharta chilled is absolutely divine.. My only recommendation is to peel the gourd since the skin, even though edible, is rather thick. Think of it like a butternut squash; you don’t really need to skin it, but sometimes it’s better if you do.
Tamarind Curry Stew
1 tbsp tamarind seedless pulp
¼ cup water (to soak the tamarind)
1 tsp of each:
- Black Pepper
Salt to taste
1 medium potato, diced
½ green peppers, chopped
½ onion, chopped
1 cup cauliflower florets
1 cup bottle gourd, diced (I’m sure butternut squash would taste darn good..I’m keeping that in mind..)
½ cup almond milk (Or coconut milk. I didn’t have any on hand, so I used almond milk.)
½ cup water
Cilantro for garnish
Pour the water over the tamarind pulp and mash it together with your fingers until it becomes thick and pasty like. Once it reaches this consistency, nuke it in the microwave until it boils. Let that sit as you prepare the remainder of the recipe.
Combine all the spices in a separate dish and set aside for easy access.
Spray a deep pan with nonstick cooking spray or whatever oil/fat you decide to use. Add the onions, sauté until lightly brown then follow with the green peppers. Add the spices with a little bit of water to form a paste then follow with the cauliflower, gourd, and potatoes. Add the salt, tamarind, remaining water and milk then stir until combined.
Cover and let that simmer for twenty minutes. If the gourd isn’t transparent or the potatoes still hard, add a bit more water and simmer for a few more minutes but twenty should be good.
Garnish with a sprinkle of cilantro.
Serve over rice, with bread or just grab a spoon and dig in.
Lentil MushroomStroganoff over Bok ChoyNoodles
Okay so this was an untraditional use for bok choy but after eating so much rice/grain throughout the week, I wasn’t up to my original plan. After much contemplation of what I could do, this idea popped into my head. Simple, clean and succulent. I also anticipate a large consumption of rice approaching in the distant future when I go to my boyfriend’s place this weekend, so, I’m saving my palette.
The sauce turned out perfect and the combination with shitake mushrooms was divine. I don’t know if my bok choy was bitter or I overcooked it to the point where it developed a bitterness; however, the concept of cabbage ‘noodles’ was fun and worked perfectly. The bok choy became tender enough to twirl on a spoon. I also think a different more heartier bean should be used. The lentils were good but I think kidney beans or maybe even chickpeas would suit the purpose better. When I was searching for a good recipe, I also found out that Stroganoff was served with potato sticks SO next up I think maybe a wild mushroom soy stroganoff over..mashed potatoes, rice, or some other grain. Cabbage can be served on the side in some Russian style. Sweet and sour comes to mind..Mm.. I’ll think about it.
I’ll be going away again and probably return with some new ideas. I already have a menu in the works to use up some old goods. I have a habit of overstocking vegetables but, really, what else can I eat? Although, I have become quite partial to the egg. I can’t wait to try more fish! I mean I can’t live on catfish after all..or can I? God I love New Orleans.