What’s in a name of a dish? Many well known dishes are named after regions, a method of cooking, or ingredients used mainly as descriptors. Some are named in honor of emperors, kings, or famous persons. Others are puns on words giving the dish an auspicious meaning as in the case of the Chinese New Year dishes which I recently talked about here. Finally, there are those that makes you go “Huh? Can you say that again please?”
One such dish in that last category is the one I am sharing with you today. It happens to be one of my favorite childhood dishes which Mom often cooked. It is a very simple dish with two of my favorite ingredients in it – beancurd sheet and glass vermicelli. I have not been able to replicate this dish until very recently when to my delight, I came across this fuzzy melon at the Asian grocery store. The name of this dish is Daai Ji Maa Gaa Neoi (大姨媽嫁女) which means eldest aunt marrying off her daughter in Cantonese. I have no clue as to why this dish is named as such. Some have suggested that the ease in which the dish is prepared is akin to the eldest aunt marrying off her daughters because she has so many of them.
As a recipe developer and a food blogger, the finishing touch to my dish is naming it. When the cooking is done and the pictures taken, I ponder on the name for my dish. Fortunately for me, Ro-Ri San is a major resource in this area and he has helped me name many dishes on this blog. Here are a few examples…
Fuzzy melon or hairy gourd 节瓜 (jié guā) or 毛瓜(máo guā) resembles a large hairy zucchini. It is related to the winter melon and has a deep green skin that is slightly spotted with tiny hairs on it, hence its name. The skin is normally peeled and the flesh julienned or cubed. It is then stir-fried, cooked in a soup, or stuffed and steamed.
Traditionally, the fuzzy melon is cooked with dried shrimp, minced pork, and glass vermicelli. Mom cooks it with dried shrimps, glass vermicelli, and blistered (or fried in oil) beancurd sheets. I substituted the dried shrimps with fresh shrimps for the sake of my boys. They both love the dish especially Ro-Jiro. Prior to finding the fuzzy melon, I have been cooking a similar dish with shredded cabbage, carrots, tofu puffs, and glass vermicelli. That is also a favorite of theirs.
- 1 small bundle glass vermicelli (mung bean threads)
- 1 (about 1lb/450g) fuzzy melon (jié gua) or (máo gua)
- 5 tbsp canola oil
- 2 dried beancurd sheets
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- ½ lb (225g) shrimp, shelled and deveined
- ½ cup (120ml) water
- 2 tbsp soy sauce
Soak glass vermicelli in a bowl of water for 15 minutes to soften. Drain.
Peel fuzzy melon with a vegetable peeler. Cut into thin slices of about 1/8th inch thickness and then into strips.
Heat 3 tablespoons of canola oil in a wok. Add dried beancurd sheet one at a time to brown and blister. Remove and break into smaller pieces.
In the same wok, add remaining 2 tablespoons of oil. Fry garlic till fragrant. Add shrimps and cook till they curl and turn pink. Add fuzzy melon, glass vermicelli, water**, soy sauce, and salt to taste. Give it a good stir. Finally add fried beancurd sheets. Allow it to soften*** before stirring to get everything well mixed.
Remove and serve immediately.
**The water is needed to cook the glass vermicelli. The water will eventually be all soaked up by the vermicelli.
***Blistered beancurd sheets should be allowed to soften with the steam before stirring to prevent them from breaking into tiny pieces.
Enjoy…..and have a wonderful day!