Ton-Ton's Journey: Vancouver 2007 will continue on Tuesday, October 29, 2007.)
What the heck is this thing!?! Anyone know? The girl at my favorite Taiwanese produce stall called it a "pear gourd". It's amazing what you can find at your local farmers market.
I had no idea how to cook this thing, but the shape gave me an idea. The helpful produce girl told me to treat it like winter melon. A recent recipe by Teczcape for savory egg custard inspired me to hollow out the round part of the gourd, fill it with egg custard, and steam it. Since I started reading my good friend Rasa Malaysia's blog over a year ago, I've been playing with Malaysian seasonings. I decided to add belacan to my egg custard for an extra pungent kick. The resulting dish was gentle and soothing, with a deliciously mysterious flavor that went very well with rice.
Recipe for Steamed Pear Gourd with Savory Egg Custard
1 chef's knife, Santouku knife, or Chinese cleaver
1 cutting board
1 mixing bowl
1 wok with bamboo steamer or stock pot with steamer insert
1 large spoon
1 medium pear gourd
1 tbsp of dried Chinese shrimp
1 green onion top
2 large eggs (preferably organic, free-range)
3 tsp of belcan fermented shrimp paste
1/4 cup of Chinese rice wine
Slice the pear gourd exactly in half lengthwise. With a metal spoon, carefully hollow out the bulb of both halves. Try to maintain an even thickness on all sides to insure uniform cooking.
Dice the bits of the gourd you hollowed out and set aside.
Thinly slice the green onion top and set aside.
Roughly chop the dried shrimp and add to the rice wine to hydrate.
Dissolve the belacan in the rice wine.
Steam the pear gourd halves over high heat for 5 minutes to help soften. If you like your gourd firm, skip this step.
Beat the two eggs. Add rice wine, dried shrimp, belacan, diced gourd, and half of the green onion slices, and mix until fully incorporated.
Pour off any water in your gourd bowls. Use egg shell halves to stabilize and prop up your gourd bowls. You want them to stay level for steaming and serving.
Carefully ladle the egg mixture into your gourd bowls.
You don't want the liquid portion to come up much beyond the lip of your bowl. Go ahead and pile the solids on a little higher. They'll cook down.
Steam over medium heat until the egg custard has just set. Should take around 15-20 minutes. Let rest for 5 more minutes off of the heat before serving.
Garnish with the remaining green onions.