Angled Loofah in Soy Milk, a Chinese Vegetarian Stir-Fry | Hong Kong Food Blog with Recipes, Cooking Tips mostly of Chinese and Asian styles | Taste Hong Kong

Angled Loofah in Soy Milk, a Chinese Vegetarian Stir-Fry

Loofah Gourd in Soy Milk, a Chinese Vegetarian Stir-Fry and Soup

Deep summer came. Loofah seems to have appeared in markets all over the place, and I believe I have started cooking them almost weekly. We have several varieties of loofah here, mostly slender resembling the shape of a thick, long cucumber. The one I cook most, probably is this angled or ridged loofah (see gwa 絲瓜 ), which comes with longitudinal ridges and measuring up to 60 to 70cm long.

Most of the time, I cook loofah by stir-frying or by boiling it in soups. A less frequent but an adorable way I too enjoy, is to have it briefly braised in a soy milk soup. It is a pity that eateries only (or usually) do it with broth, so when I had some leftover homemade soy milk, I hesitated no more. For convenience, simply replace homemade soy milk by bottled soy milk or by the soup made from beancurd skin (without sugar added).

Although I used angled loofah (also spelled in many different ways such as lofah, luffa, or lufa), you may try this recipe with other type of it (also known as beerakaaya in India and Chinese okra squash in some places). Loofahs are suitable for making this because their spongy meats are pretty absorbent, enabling it to take on much flavors from the soy milk, apart from tasting mildly sweet itself.

Sweet soy milk is delicious, so does its savory versions and this is one of them. Good thing is, without any sugar added, this will make you a low-calorie dish, not to mention that it is both gluten-free and vegetarian. To admit though, I do add meat to it sometimes.

Loofah Gourd in Soy Milk, a Chinese Vegetarian Stir-Fry and Soup

The way preparing angled loofah might be somewhat different from other gourds, but it is simple.

How to peel angled loofah
Chop off few centimeters from the stem, and trim the end a bit. Remove ridges from loofah with a vegetable peeler, then scrape skin lightly with a sharp small knife with some green skin remain (that will give us more crunchiness). Sometimes, I use a brush, just depending on what is handy.

How to slice loofah
Cut the first slice diagonally into roughly 5cm chunks. Roll the loofah about 90 degree, make another cut, again diagonally of the same length. After making each cut, rotate the squash until reaching the other end. Such way of cutting is not owned by me only, most Chinese cooks do it the same way, especially for stir-fries.

The angled loofahs we eat are the young ones. When they become really mature, or aged, their spongy meat will turn fiberous and can be used for bathing, washing dishes or scrubbing – to take a look at it, dive in the post I had on Malacca, Malaysia.

Loofah Gourd, Lofah, Luffa, or Luffa

  • Ingredients
  • 1 angled loofah, ~400g (see why it is also called silk squash)
  • 1/2 cup soy milk, without sugar
  • 1-2 tbsp cooking oil
  • ~5 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
  • ~1/2 tsp salt, or to taste
  • pinch of ground white pepper

How to Peel Loofah Gourd
How to Slice Loofah Gourd

Method

Peel, wash and slice angled gourd.

Heat oil in wok over medium heat. Sauté garlic until lightly brown (I reserved some of it for garnishing), toss in gourd slices. Stir to coat them with oil and garlic, about half a minute. Add salt and stir well.

Pour in soy milk, keep stirring. Observe closely the consistency of soy milk. If it is thickened too quickly when heated, then thinner it with some water. Cover for about a minute or until the gourd is tender. On the contrary, if it is rather runny, then boil it longer with lid off (because I personally like retaining some crunchiness). That is, you may adjust the simmering time to achieve your desire consistency and tenderness.

Season with ground white pepper, and add more salt to taste, if required.

Serve hot.

Loofah Gourd in Soy Milk, a Chinese Vegetarian Stir-Fry and Soup

Enjoy!


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Comments

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  1. Helena

    I can’t wait to try this ! Hope I’m going to find loofah here… I haven’t yet understood the way to slice it like you, but I’ll give it a try and we’ll see !

  2. Stephanie

    Interesting! I’ve seen that vegetable in the chinese supermarkets here in Alberta but I’ve never known what to do with it or what it would taste like. Your dish looks delicious

  3. TasteHongKong

    @Helena,
    Sounds like I haven’t described the technique good enough. It is actually the same as you would slice along the length of the gourd. Different is, while holding the knife perpendicular to the board, you cut on a diagonal straight down (the picture above Method). After each cut, roll the gourd – about a quarter-turn, and slice at the same diagonal again. Hope this clarifies and good luck shopping for the loofah!

  4. TasteHongKong

    @Stephaine,
    Thanks for advising us as where to find the gourd in your place. Hope you’ll get a chance to enjoy this too!

  5. lena

    havent seen loofah being cooked this way..in soy milk. Interesting to know it can be done in sweet and savoury ways. I have difficulty how to choose a young luffa actually, i had one or 2 times got a very old one and the lady seller advised me to look at the sides stems, most if the time i ask them to pick a good one for me, if not i’ll come back and complain .LOL!

  6. TasteHongKong

    @lena,
    That is a good strategy : ). It seems to me that the skins of younger ones would not look dull as those aged. When shaking a young loofah ups and downs gently from the lower end, you could feel the other end ‘jerking’ at the same time. But I must say, I like your strategy : ).

  7. elaine chan

    How innovative and interesting, will definitely try this. Thank you.

  8. Little Inbox

    This sounds yummy. I love the natural sweetness from loofah.

  9. Mary Moh

    I really like this angled loofah. Can’t find it here though :( Back home we always make soup with eggs or stir fry with eggs. Have never tried it with soya milk. Bet it’s very delicious.

  10. food-4tots

    Cooking loofah in soy milk sounds so interesting and delicious! I must give it a try. I think your link is not working and there’s a typo. I guess you mean “Malacca”, right?

  11. TasteHongKong

    @MaryMoh,
    Loofah with eggs is good too. Those I cook with fried eggs are usually without the ridges : ). Hope you could soon enjoy them again.

  12. TasteHongKong

    @food-4tots
    Thanks! Link resumed. Yes, I have spelled the name as Melacca probably with reference to a travel guide. But it is reverted above as, like you suggested, the majority I checked from the web also names it as Malacca. For those in the original post, sadly, have to leave them as they are due to previous linking.

  13. Helena

    @ Taste, thanks for explaining your technique once again ! Actually I didn’t mind your explanations weren’t clear enough: it’s just that I can’t really figure it out mentally, but I’ll experiment it with other vegetables to get the right move ! I think one may acquire this kind of skills instinctively rather than mentally :)
    I need to say it once more: this dish is so exciting, I love soy milk and would never have imagined to use it to braise vegetables, but I can already feel in mind the soft taste it imparts to these… And your pictures are really mouthwatering !

  14. TasteHongKong

    @Helna,
    You are welcome, I’m glad that you find this exciting. Just have fun, cutting that way is simply to maximize the surface area of the gourd. Enjoy!

  15. PlumLeaf

    I like Angled Loofah – mum tends to have it in soup (particularly nice in chicken soup), sometimes in stir-fry :)

    @ Mary Moh: have you tried an Oriental Supermarket where you are?
    try Matthew’s Foods in Aberdeen.
    136-138 Causewayend
    Aberdeen
    AB25 3TN

  16. TasteHongKong

    PlumLeaf,
    Thanks for writing, considerate enough : ).

  17. Christine's Recipes

    Interesting dish ! We often stir fry loofah, but have ever cooked loofah in soy milk. I’d really like to taste how it’s like.

  18. tigerfish

    I enjoy loofah very much but I never imagine I could cook them in soy milk! Interesting. Very interesting.

  19. Lori

    Loofah is one thing I’ve not had the opportunity to try before. It always looks so great in the recipes I see on online. This one is no exception, especially with that soy milk. Beautiful!

  20. Yi @ Yi Resevation

    Loofah is one of my favorite summer veggies but I am a little tired of the usual stir-fry or soup recipes. This soy milk loofah recipe sounds really interesting would love to give it a try. Thanks.

  21. Helena

    I finally managed to do it ! The skin was a bit tough (and slightly bitter in some places) because I think it was older than yours and maybe I didn’t simmer it long enough, but the soy milk gave a subtle yet very nice taste and the mild taste of the gourd itself is really pleasant !
    I’d personally reduce the amount of garlic of the recipe, all the more so the cloves are usually big here in France… But anyway, thank you much for this discovery !

  22. Helena

    I forgot to mention an important thing : I also achieved the slicing method ! It was actually far easier than I thought it would be… But really clever :)

  23. TasteHongKong

    @Helena,
    That’s great!
    Perhaps you may want to trim off more of skin next time if it is tough, though the better solution is to get the young ones if possible.

  24. lina_to_u

    Am going to try this with the soy milk…don’t think I can find the loofah but will try with courgettes which are plentiful at the moment :)

  25. kristy

    I have also never tried cooking loofah with soy milk. Very interesting indeed. I normally make stir fried either with egg or wood ear, beancurd sheet & glass noodle. I must try your version some day.
    Thanks.
    Kristy

  26. Angie@Angie's Recipes

    Angled loofah in soya milk… that is something new to me. I remember my mom likes to cook vermicelli soup with 角瓜 (si gua is a bit different) with thinly sliced pork tenderloin for the lunch.