I was so excited to receive this post from Penny because Hechima is the one common Okinawa veggie that I’ve never figured out how to cook! Thanks for the step by step!
CONTRIBUTED BY PENNY VAN HEERDEN
Hechima or Nabera, as it is known in the local Okinawan dialect, resembles a cucumber and is from the gourd family. In mainland Japan, Hechima is dried and used as a loofah sponge for bathing. It is only eaten in Okinawa. I love the simple, clean taste of Hechima, which becomes soft, like eggplant, when cooked.
Hechima is sold in the local produce section of supermarkets — or even better, you can find it at any farmer’s market. When choosing Hechima, smaller is better. The bigger they get the more spongy the texture becomes. You don’t want to feel like you are eating a bath sponge!
A friend taught me the following recipe a couple of months after arriving in Okinawa for the first time in 1996. (Aah, what a baby I was then.) It is still one of our favorite dishes and is simple, inexpensive and yet totally different from anything back home.
2 x medium Hechima
1 x block of tofu (preferably fresh)
1 x tin of tuna
Soya Sauce to taste
Pepper to taste
1. Cut the tofu into bite size squares.
2. Peel the Hechima and cut into rounds.
5. Cook on a low heat for about 10 minutes. The Hechima will have become soft and a lot of juice will have come from the Hechima making it resemble a soup.