What’s to buy right now at the wet market? We’ll be featuring a different seasonal ingredient and recipe in each of our Market Watch columns. Without further ado:
Water Gourd 水瓜
In celebration of the abundance of summer gourds in Hong Kong (see sponge gourds here), here’s another one to watch for at the wet market: the water gourd 水瓜 sui2 gwah1. While most gourds are now available most of the year because of advanced technology, water gourds are truly a seasonal produce. They are strictly available during the summer from April to August, and only in good weather. It’s not widely recognizable even among locals.
But they are fantastic-tasting: more delicate in flavor, but more bouncy than sponge gourds and leaving no residue in your mouth. “These have a delicate sweetness and are very popular in Chiu Chow cooking,” says Mr. Hu, a wet market vendor since 1996. “Buy it while it lasts! They are hard to track down.” Each water gourd costs $6 at Mr. Hu’s stall.
They’re usually cylindrical in shape, but sometimes shaped like a calabash 葫蘆 woo4 lo4, or a bottle gourd, pictured above. These are much harder to come by, and are more commonly grown in Hong Kong — a good indication it’s a local produce.
As its name suggests, water gourds are very high in its water content. The high water content means it’s great in clearing “heat” and facilitating the elimination of excess bodily fluids. Perfect for Hong Kong summers!
Recipe idea: Water Gourd and Salted Egg Soup
A classic Hong Kong home cooked dinner is not complete without a soup, even amidst the summer heat. A quick water gourd soup with salted egg and lean pork 水瓜鹹蛋瘦肉湯 sui2 gwah1 hahm4 dahn2 sau3 yook6 tawng1 is a great option for this weather, as it’s bright and refreshing, and also very fast to put together.
What you’ll need:
- 2-3 Water gourds
- Lean pork
- Salted egg
- Slice lean pork into small pieces, roughly the size of your thumb. Marinate with soy sauce, oil, cooking wine for five minutes.
- Peel the water gourds cleanly and completely. Slice into squares or rectangles.
- Clean salted egg, and separate the yolk and whites into different containers.
- Bring water to boil in a pot. Add marinated lean pork, egg yolk, and water gourds into pot. Boil and let simmer for 20 minutes.
- Turn down to low heat, and add egg white. Soup is ready to serve when the egg white sets.
客家佬興記新界蔬菜 hahk gah lo hing gay sun gigh saw choy “Hakka Guy Hing Kee New Territories Vegetables”
Stall 1507, Smithfield Market, Kennedy Town.