Wednesday, February 17, 2010

And what are we having for dinner?

Just what do you think these 2 pieces of produce might be?

That is how I feel every time we go grocery shopping. Most of the produce is unidentifiable to me. Oh sure, lettuce and tomatoes are easy....usually....although sometimes even those can be strange colors and have different textured leaves than seen in other parts of the world. And apples and oranges normally look like apples and oranges. But a whole lot of the veggies and fruits here in Malaysia are a mystery to me. If it were up to Bill, I would never buy anything new. But, hey, when in Rome.......

When I purchased the two items of produce shown above I hoped that the orange thing was a type of squash. The guessing game usually involves me cutting off a small piece and tasting it raw to get a feel for how it should be cooked and with what seasonings and/or herbs.

Squash is something we both really miss. Every once and awhile the market will have a few very overpriced pieces of zucchini but yellow squash or summer crookneck squash is unheard of in this part of the world. Of course, there is the regular hard squash (what we would call winter squash in the states) that is popular here and usually called pumpkin...although the outside color and shape does not resemble what one visualizes when thinking of a normal orange pumpkin. But we miss regular yellow squash and zucchini. So I was hopeful that the orange thing might be a type of squash.

The long white thing looks similar to a parsnip to me and I hoped it was something like that.

Nope on both counts. The long white parsnip-looking thing turned out to be a mild radish of some sort. So much for my idea of cooking that. The orange thing turned out to be a form of cucumber. Bill searched on the internet and found that this is usually called a Chinese old cucumber and it is often used in a particular soup. Hot cucumber soup? Nope; don't think that appeals to us. Although the recipe did sound different, using cucumbers and scallops and dried fish in a broth, plus abalone if available. We won't be trying that particular recipe.

Turned out it would be salad and grilled chicken for dinner this night and no cooked vegetables.

On our last regular weekly trip to the supermarket I found these tiny purple things called brinjal. They looked like tiny eggplants, not much bigger than red globe grapes. Bill has learned to like eggplant cooked Chinese style so this seemed like a logical thing to try. Bill wanted me to buy the regular long eggplant instead but I insisted we needed to broaden our horizons on this new food issue. Bill says I should be happy that he enjoys the same old things over and over again. Better watch out with statements like that.

Sure enough, when we got back to the boat I researched and found that brinjal is simply the Indian word for aubergines, which is what the rest of the world outside the USA calls eggplant. And here we in the USA thought aubergine was just the name of a color the shade of deep purple.

I cooked these tiny brinjal with green beans, garlic, minced ginger and a Chinese stir-fry sauce in the wok, topped with cilantro or coriander as it is known here. Bill thought it was good but my verdict is that the regular long eggplant is better. The tiny brinjal has lots of very tiny seeds. The long eggplant grown locally has more eggplant "meat" and far less and far softer seeds inside. By the way, the local long eggplant is much superior to the fat big dark purple eggplants we have in the USA. They are not at all bitter and do not require salting and bleeding before cooking.

Had never thought of eggplant and green beans stir-fried together until we tried it at a Chinese restaurant several months ago. Eggplant fried with potatoes and onion, then mixed with Schezuan sauce is also delicious if you like spicy foods; and much more filling. Bill and I think both eggplant dishes are pretty darn good, though totally different.


  1. Hi Judy and Bill
    We don't know each other but I read your blogg now and then, and I often read your useful comments on the Amel Forum.

    I just want to give you a tip of a realy good book. "1001 Foods you must try mefore you die". I know it sounds like one of those ".... for dummies" but it is not. It is really use full.
    Pictures and descriptions and cooking suggestions for 1001 different foods, from vegetables to meat and even beverages.
    I checked the things on the first picture and the white root thing is called Mooli and is a member of the radish family. Often used thin sliced to sushi.
    You ought to be able to order it through Amazon or maybe find it in a book shop in a bigger city.

    My husband and I are preparing our take of in june 2010 to our longtime cruise. Right now we are in the ice in the south of Sweden.

    Regards from
    S/Y Lady Annila SM #232

  2. Just the way you are holding the food makes it scary. Like you are afraid to really get your fingers into it like Julia Child would. haha. How was it?

  3. Michele -- Couldn't tell any difference between the Chinese old cucumber and a normal cucumber except that the seeds were larger and harder and the peelings were very hard so were discarded. Tasted just like a regular green cucumber. The radish thing was very mild and crisp. We normally don't buy radishes but will buy this again for salads.

    Your comment about Julie Child makes me think you watched that movie "Julie and Julia" last year.


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