August 3, 2018

Food for Thought

I walked into a grocery store in Chinatown (corner of Forsyth & Hester) and bought a can of “White-Gourd Drink.” It’s a Taiwanese product. I had no idea what white gourd is. The picture of it on the can looked like a big cucumber. The flavor of caramelized sugar was so strong that I didn’t taste anything else. I wondered what this vegetable is. I’ve never seen it before (or at least I don’t remember seeing it). Then, just as I was wondering, I saw the very thing being sold on the vegetable stand I was walking by. I showed the can to the old Chinese lady selling it. She nodded, so I bought one. $2.50 is not a cheap vegetable by the Chinatown standard. It must be relatively rare.

I Googled “white gourd” but I didn’t find much about it. It’s also called “winter melon.” I switched to Instagram to search and I discovered what it’s called in Japanese. From there, I found a bunch of recipes. I picked one that sounded summery.

peeled the skin. Sliced it thinly. Boiled the slices for a few minutes. Cooled them under running water. Mixed them with reconstituted wakame seaweed. Poured yuzu-ponzu. Sprinkled bonito flakes. Swipe to see the result. The gourd pairs perfectly with seaweed because it has a similar texture; firm and slippery. I like it a lot, but it doesn’t have a strong flavor, which makes it an odd choice for a sugary drink.

#whitegourd #wintermelon #とうがん #taiwanesefood #chinatown #nyceats #japanesefood #yuzu #ponzu #nycfoodie #glutenfree