Cooking Local: Yuugao – Okinawan Bottle Gourd Curry
CONTRIBUTED BY KELLY GILLOTTI
I saw this huge green vegetable, with a sticker price of around $1.75, and decided that I must learn to like this, based on the price alone.
I stood there in the middle of the market, entering kana into my Japanese translation app to discover that yuugao (ゆうがお) is bottle gourd. Apparently, they make delightful liquid vessels once they’re dried. Since the yuugao is watery and mild, it’s perfect for summer. The bottle gourd was like a giant cucumber after peeling and deseeding.
The flavor is very mild and pleasing. Since I had just returned from six weeks in India, I was inspired to make an Indian curry to heat things up.
- 1 yuugao
- 1 tbsp ghee
- 1/3 onion- chopped
- 1 tsp cumin
- 1 tsp black mustard seed
- 5 curry leaves (if you don’t have these, just add cilantro as a garnish instead)
- ½ tsp coriander
- ½ tsp fenugreek
- 1 pinch cayenne pepper (or more!)
- Salt to taste
- ½ tsp turmeric powder
- ½ cup flaked coconut
- ½ cup coconut milk
- ½ cup water
Peel, deseed, and dice the whole bottle gourd. Heat the ghee in pan, and add onions once it’s hot. Cook for 3 minutes then add the cumin and black mustard seed. Let this cook until the mustard seeds start popping. Then add the flaked coconut and curry leaves. Keep stirring over medium heat until the coconut starts to brown. Be careful not to let the spices burn. Stir, stir, stir!
Add the diced bottle gourd, turmeric, coriander, fenugreek, and cayenne. Stir around for a few minutes, letting the spices mingle. Add water and cover pan. Cook for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove lid, add coconut milk, bring to a boil then reduce heat and cook for 10 more minutes until the gourd is translucent.
Add salt to taste. Serve over rice or barley with a side of sautéed greens.