Silk gourd with green soy beans

Silk gourd with green soy beans

Qing dou si gua

By
From
Every Grain of Rice
Photographer
Chris Terry

I first tasted this dish after a wet morning’s fishing in a lake in the Zhejiang countryside. We went out, three of us, in a wobbly wooden punt and when we were in the middle of the lake it started to drizzle. The fisherman cast his net from one end of the punt and pulled in a few fish that he stored in the watery hold. Soon the rain came more steadily and the sky and water were the same soft grey, almost indistinguishable. We paddled back to the shore and lit a fire in the kitchen to warm ourselves up as the fisherman finished preparing our lunch.

He turned out to be an astoundingly good cook, offering us an unforgettable red-braised pork, poached free-range chicken with a soy sauce dip, braised catfish with ginger, stir-fried river shrimp and this sumptuous stew of silk gourd and soy beans. The silk gourd has a soft, juicy texture and the beans and ham give the dish a rich umami savouriness. Vegetarians may omit the ham and perhaps add a little sweet red pepper for colour. I suspect the same recipe would also work excellently with marrow or courgettes.

Ingredients

Quantity Ingredient
1 silk gourd, (about 500g)
45g chinese or spanish ham
or 3 rashers bacon
100g shelled green soy beans
2 tablespoons cooking oil
1/2 tablespoon shaoxing wine
150ml stock
salt
1 teaspoon potato flour, mixed with 1 tablespoon cold water, (optional)

Method

  1. Peel the silk gourd (I use a potato peeler), then roll-cut into chunks. Cut the ham or bacon rashers into small, bite-sized slices. If you are using fresh soy beans, boil them for about five minutes until tender (the frozen kind are already cooked and simply need defrosting).
  2. Heat a seasoned wok over a high flame, then add the oil and swirl it around. Add the ham or bacon and sizzle for a few seconds until you can smell it. Then add the beans, stir-fry for 30 seconds or so, and tip in the silk gourd. Continue to stir-fry until everything is piping hot, then add the Shaoxing wine and next the stock.
  3. Bring to a boil, season with salt to taste, then cover and simmer gently for about three minutes. Lastly, if you wish to thicken the sauce, give the potato flour mixture a stir, add it to the wok and stir as the sauce thickens.

Variation

  • Silk gourd with garlic: Heat a wok, add oil then sliced garlic and stir-fry briefly until the garlic is fragrant. Add roll-cut silk gourd and stir-fry until hot. Pour in some stock, bring to a boil, season with salt to taste, then cover and simmer for a few minutes. Thicken the sauce with potato flour as above if you wish.
Tags:
Chinese
Sichuanese
Asian
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