Malabar Gourd – San Francisco Superfood?
In less than nine months, The Malabar Gourd has made itself quite comfortable at Hayes Valley Farm. All winter, this perennial squash stretched out over newly sheet-mulched ground on a steep south-east facing slope. It needed no encouragement to offer its pretty green cloak to the chain-link fence at the bottom, and even decided to meander into the neighborhood a few dozen yards to see what was what. Now football-sized fruit is seemingly appearing overnight, and getting larger. Time to figure out a fun way to eat what could be San Francisco’s new Superfood.
Why is it so super? Already packaged to be stored for a year or more. From all reports, lots of protein and fat in the seeds. Certainly a lot of water. Don’t know what nutritional value is in the leaves, but I’m guessing a truckload of vitamin C. And as a plant, it has already demonstrated that it can quickly provide protective ground cover in marginal soil.
So welcome, Malabar gourd! This perennial squash, originally hailing from the Andes, has been grown all over the world. The firm white flesh of the young melons is often roasted. In Asia, the spaghetti-like flesh of the mature fruit is made into soup whose appearance and texture have led to the moniker “Shark Fin Melon.” And the most common usage may be in making a beverage akin to a cucumber-watermelon smoothie.
Making its San Francisco debut, I offer Malabar Gesquasho. The Gesquasho consists of three elements: The Base Gesquasho, the Roasted Seed Action, and the Flava-Flave. Creative experimentation with any and all of these elements is heartily encouraged.
1. Cut open “lid” of mature Malabar.
2. Scoop out inner “spaghetti” guts, leaving outer firm white part and rind intact.
3. Separate seeds from guts.
4. Puree guts with equal parts HVF Stock (recipe follows). Season with salt, white pepper, and tabasco. This is the Base Gesquasho.
5. Roast seeds – they are where the protein and fat reside.
6. Mince seeds with salt and cayenne pepper. Add this Roasted Seed Action to Gesquasho.
7. Saute diced onion, diced baby leek, minced garlic, and diced deseeded peppers in oil until softened, season with salt. Stir in chopped young Malabar leaves. Add this Flava-Flave to Gesquasho.
8. Chill, and return to gourd for service. Same goes for the soup.
Hayes Valley Farm Stock:
Onion – diced
Carrots – chopped
Wild Fennel Stalks – chopped
Fresh Herb/Aromatic of Choice (I used Lemon Verbena)
Wild Fennel Fronds
Dried Bay Leaf and Thyme
Soften onion, carrots and fennel stocks in oil over medium heat for a couple minutes. Add water, bring to simmer. Add rest of ingredients, simmer for 45 minutes. Strain.
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