Monday, May 16, 2016
Harvest Monday 16 May 2016
First harvest comes from cleaning out the beds for the new growing season. These are some volunteer bunching onions scattered around the garden after I failed to deadhead one of their ancestors. These were timely because I had some meals planned, both Mexican and Chinese, that called for scallions.
Last September I showed the innovative trellising techniques used by Mr. Yin, our intrepid Chinese gardener. This picture shows the elaborate trellising method he used to get his winter melon vines to grow vertically. He also had to support the melons somehow, in this case with a large rock placed under the melon to support it and keep it off the ground.
Last week he gifted me this huge winter melon he grew in the gardens. It weighed in at over 7 pounds. What do you do with winter melon (also known as ash gourd or white gourd)? You make soup.
First step is to cut the melon (or gourd) in half with a very sturdy knife. The rind or skin is really a thick, rigid, plastic-like shell that is very hard to cut. In Chinese supermarkets, winter melon is often sold pre-cut into wedges
Next step is to remove the seeds and pulp with a scoop. The seeds are black and very large.
Next I cut the halves into wedges and removed the shell. The shell or rind is very thick and rigid and I was able to just pull the flesh out from the shell. Then the flesh is cut into small cubes for the soup. For the soup, prepare a rich chicken or pork broth flavored with some fresh ginger. The melon cubes are cooked in the broth 45-60 minutes until they are tender. Add some slivered Black Forest ham and shiitake mushrooms and a sliced scallion.
The result is a simple dish with a range of contrasts, visual and tactile. The winter melon does not add a lot of flavor. It is not entirely flavorless, having a subtle melon taste. What it offers in the soup is a velvety texture that is a contrast to the chewiness of the mushrooms and ham. The translucent whiteness of the melon also contrasts with the earthy brown mushrooms and the red of the ham. Just a simple, elegant dish that is very easy to make.
That is all my nascent garden produced last week. To see what other gardeners are coaxing from their gardens, visit Dave at Our Happy Acres, our host for Harvest Monday.