Fuzzy Melon with Dried Scallops (节瓜干贝 Mao Gua Gan Bei)
October 15, 2022  Print
Fuzzy melon (节瓜), also known as hairy melon, is a warm-weather fruit that’s typically grown in Southern China and Southeast Asia. I didn’t grow up eating fuzzy melon due to my upbringing in northern China. But after I moved to the States, I found that my overall selection of vegetables and fruits actually grew thanks to the Asian diversity in the United States. Fuzzy melon has become one of the newer additions to my dinner table.
Aside from the beneficial nutrients of fuzzy melon, its water content is great for Texas’ hot summer. I’m actually considering growing some next year in my backyard. Fuzzy melon’s mild taste reminds me a bit of winter melon and zucchini. It also absorbs flavors extremely well, so I like to cook it with dried seafood to fully accentuate the umami of the seafood.
Don’t be afraid of the hair on the melon. You can rinse it off easily or simply peel off the skin altogether. The seeds are soft and edible. For this recipe, I chose dried scallops as the accompanying ingredient. But you can use dried shrimp as well. Keep in mind that it typically takes at least 1 hour to soften dried scallops.
The final dish looks more like a stew. You can also add more water to make it more soup-like.
Gluten Free, Low Carb
Preparation Time: 1 hour 5 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 20 minutes
Servings: 2 to 4 people
- 1 fuzzy melon
- ~1/4 cup dried scallops 1
- 2 to 3 garlic cloves
- 1/3 teaspoon kosher salt (reduce by half if using table salt)
- ~1 cup tap water
- 1/2 teaspoon light soy sauce 2
- 1 teaspoon corn starch or tapioca starch
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- Rinse the dried scallops a few times in running water until no bubbles appear. Then soak the dried scallops in 1 cup of tap water for at least 1 hour.3 When the scallops are done soaking, break them into thinner threads with your hands. Do NOT throw away the water used for soaking.
- Peel and slice the fuzzy melon into half circles or quarters, about 1/4 inch (0.6 cm) thick. Peel and mince the garlic cloves. Mix 1 teaspoon of light soy sauce, 1 teaspoon of corn starch, and 1 tablespoon of water together.
- Heat a large non-stick or well seasoned pan under medium heat. When the pan is warm, add 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil. Swirl the oil around and add the minced garlic.
- After the garlic releases some fragrance, add the fuzzy melon slices, stirring to evenly distribute the heat. Add 1/2 teaspoon of kosher salt and gently stir. Then add the water used to soak the dried scallops. Close the lid. When water bubbles, lower the heat to medium low and cook for 3 minutes.
- Add the softened scallop threads to the fuzzy melon pan and raise the heat back to medium. Stir gently for another 2 minutes. (Note, you can also add the scallops at the same time as the water used to soak the scallops in step 4 for a softer scallop texture).
- Add the starch water from step 2 to the pan. Make sure to stir the starch water right before adding to prevent precipitation. Mix gently. When liquid thickens a bit, turn off the heat and pour everything into a deep bowl or plate. Enjoy while warm!
- You can find dried scallops in most Asian grocery stores. You can also find them in specialized stores that sell dried goods in Chinatown or Asian markets.
- Use gluten free soy sauce or tamari if you are gluten intolerant.
- This step can be done ahead of time. You can soak the dried scallop in water in the morning and leave it in the refrigerator to use in the evening.
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