Sunday, September 26, 2010

Fuzzy Winter Melon Gourd Thing

Fuzzy Wuzzy wuz a gourd
Fuzzy Wuzzy musta been shorn
Fuzzy Wuzzy wasn't fuzzy, was he?

Or maybe he was when he was younger. Fuzzy did have this strange white powdery stuff that kept coming off the skin, which explains its other English name "ash gourd." And a scent like honeydew crossed with cucumber and watered down. It arrived in my CSA bag. Okay, the bag isn't really big enough. It came along with the bag. Conveniently with lemongrass. And herbs. Hmmm.

I think they know I like a challenge.

Fuzzy gourds, or bi dao in Vietnamese, are originally from Southeast Asia. They are common throughout other parts of Asia now, and are often used to make soups, stir fry and a fruit drink.

Given the smell, I figured a raw preparation would be best. Here are two ways you can prepare your Fuzzy Gourd, both with sexy Forbidden Rice (black rice). You can also leave out the Fuzzy Gourd since, well, I am not sure where you could begin to find one.

The black rice can be found at a good grocery store, or a Whole Foods type place. A health food store might also carry it. Which makes good sense, as black rice contains more antioxidants, particularly anthocyanins, in a serving than blueberries. Forbidden rice was so named because it was so prized, only the emperor was allowed to eat it. Fortunately, you can now get it for about two bucks a pound in the bulk aisle.

Black Rice Salad (Savory) with Lemongrass Dressing
1 cup black rice
1-3/4 cups water

For the dressing
4 stalks lemongrass, thinly sliced about 6 inches of the ends
1 bunch cilantro, chopped
1/4 cup Tamari soy sauce
1/3 cup brown rice wine vinegar
2 tbs. sugar
1/4 cup canola oil
juice of 1 lemon
1 tbs. ginger, fresh minced

For the salad
1 cup diced winter melon (optional)
2 red bell peppers, diced
1 green or 1 purple bell pepper
1 bunch scallions, white and 3 inches of the green sliced
1 bunch Asian long beans, cut to 1-inch pieces and steamed for five minutes
2 tbs. sesame seeds

Prepare the rice by placing the rice and water in a covered sauce pan. Bring to boil, reduce heat and simmer for about 30 minutes until liquid is absorbed and rice is al dente. Allow rice to cool while you prepare the rest of the salad.

Whisk the dressing ingredients together and allow to marry. Place all the salad ingredients into a large bowl. Toss with the cooled rice and add the dressing. Toss again and then cover and chill. Allow the dish to chill about four hours, and flavors the blend, before serving.

For the sweet version:

1 cup black rice (bulk bins, whole foods)
1-3/4 cups water

For the other salad ingredients:
1 cup winter melon, seeded and diced (optional)
2 bell peppers, red and yellow, diced
1/3 cup dried cranberries
1/3 cup shredded carrot (about 2 carrots)
1/4 cup macadamia nuts, or slivered almonds
1 small bunch parsley, about 1/4 cup chopped
1 small bunch basil, about 1/4 cup chopped

2 tbs. walnut oil
1 tbs. apple cider vinegar
1 tbs. apple juice (no sugar added)
1 tbs. agave nectar
salt and pepper to taste.

Prepare the rice, it needs 30 minutes to cook. Prepare the dressing and toss all ingredients together, allow it to cool in the refrigerator for 2 hours so the flavors blend.

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