Friday, 27 September 2013

Mum's Marrow Recipe (NOT A STUFFED MARROW)



It's come to be a joke among some of the people at the farmer's market; last week I called up one of the farms and requested they bring a couple of marrows for me because they didn't have them last week (due to unpopular demand). Yeah, I reserved marrows.

I love marrow. I know– it's too big and too bulky and takes up half your shopping bag so you have no space for anything else, not particularly attractive, and tastes of nothing. Most marrow recipes seem to involve stuffing the marrow, delicious yes, but almost a begrudging, brave attempt to disguise the blandness of the vegetable. I like stuffed marrow, but it doesn't make sense to me because right at the stage when I'm frying the pork mince with chillies and fish sauce, I feel ready to dig into the stuffing – maybe throw in some mint and thai basil first– rather than spoon it into the soft, tasteless flesh of a hollowed marrow.


The way I see it, the blandness of marrow is exactly what makes it so wonderful a vegetable. My mum makes a dish back home in Singapore using a similarly bland local gourd. I would have bowls and bowls of it and I announced once it's the tastiest vegetable ever. My mum laughed and said it tastes of nothing at all. What happened was, she'd braised it in stock, and all the flavour from the broth had been soaked up by the gourd, turning it into wonderful hot wet (can't find an appropriate noun). This is one dish that will not work better with a 'tastier' vegetable. It's a dish that very much celebrates the mildness of the gourd/ marrow, the quiet ability to take on the delicate layers of flavours of a well-made broth. This dish is also very much about the wonderful texture of a marrow that's been stewed gently till its flesh is soft but not yet collapsing, so it all slithers smoothly and happily down your throat.

Yep, only possible with a boring old marrow.
MUM'S MARROW STEW
Serves 3-4, but I ate it all
Ingredients
1 medium marrow
1" ginger
4 cloves garlic
2-3 cups flipping amazing stock*
handful of goji berries
handful chopped spring onions
sea salt to taste
1 tbsp groundnut oil

* My slightly insane mum makes stock with a specific blend of bones in a big black claypot over a charcoal fire, which is slowly fanned for hours. The charcoal fire might be hard here, but you can still make pretty amazing Asian stock with pork and/or chicken bones from a happy farm/ good butcher's– tips here. This one here is half chicken, half pork (back rib bones).

Method
1. Chop the marrow into chunks, I don't bother peeling because the skin gives it an extra texture and colour that's rather nice. Finely chop the garlic and ginger.
2. Heat the groundnut oil, and add the garlic and ginger to fry till fragrant, remove before browned as they continue cooking after.
3. Add the marrow to the pot, followed by the stock, and bring to a boil. Once boiling, reduce to a low simmer and add half the fried garlic, ginger, and goji berries. Let everything stew gently on low heat till the marrow is well tender.
4. 10 minutes before serving, add the rest of the goji berries to plump up in the stock. These remain sweet and become surprise bursts of sweetness in the savoury stew.
5. To serve, scoop marrow into bowls, making sure to get a bit of broth and the sweet (newly added) goji berries in. Scatter spring onions and the rest of the fried bits over. Devour.


This is not a punchy dish. No big bold flavours, no crazy spices or sauces. But good, so very good.

(I obviously need to work on expanding my vocab of adjective and nouns)




More on Asian broths:
The 'right' way to make stock 
"Old-fire" Watercress Soup
Soto Ayam (Malay Chicken Soup)

37 comments:

  1. I'm not crazy for marrow but I do like it on occasion. Your recipe looks fantastic and the flavours, whilst light are well considered and I'm sure divinely tasty!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Dom! I don't know many people crazy for marrow to be honest, ha! I am a right weirdo.

      Delete
  2. love this I was just asking about marrows at the farmers market today :-_

    ReplyDelete
  3. I love marrows and squashes., especially if they are stewed I stock and get all soft and slithery..yum.
    Sometimes, simple is best.

    Nazneen

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Nazneen- yes me too, love it when they get all soft and slippery and juicy, yum.

      Delete
  4. A neighbour once gave us a marrow and we didn't know what to do with it! All I could find were recipes for stuffed marrows. Clearly if I'm ever lucky enough to get a free marrow again I now have a delicious recipe to try. :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Go wink at your neighbour now and try to score a marrow!

      Delete
  5. I love marrow! I have never stuffed it as not keen on stuffed veggies (unless it's a la Yong Tau Foo-stye). Like the addition of Goji berries, kind of like a sweet herbal broth.

    Sounds good, so very good indeed! ;-)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I actually like stuffed veggies, but only if people make for me.. else I'll be tempted to just eat the stuffing instead of going through all that bloody work to stuff it!
      Yes! My mum loves using red dates and wolfberries to sweeten broths :)

      Delete
  6. When I first read the title of your post (on twitter) I though you were talking about bone marrow. Then, I saw the pictures and got even more confused... what the hell is a marrow?!!! ;-))) Something in between a courgette and a squash??? Besides that tiny detail... your mum's receipe is so cool, I would never come up with the idea of adding goji berries to the stew, like it!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yeah! It's like a giant courgette, though flavour-wise it's closer to a bland squash.
      It's a very traditional Asian soup thing- to add goji berries or red jujube dates to sweeten the soup without adding sugar. So good! And very good for the body too!

      Delete
  7. looks delicious...just mouthwatering!

    ReplyDelete
  8. This soup looks wonderful... and yes, marrow is bland but with the help from your flipping amazing stock, I bet it just soaks up all the beautiful flavours. And I love the goji berries... My mom uses them often in her soups.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's a very traditional Asian soup thing- to add goji berries or red jujube dates to sweeten soups. I love it! Delicious and according to my mum, helps you see in the dark ..

      Delete
  9. I love marrow too. In Sri Lanka they make a curry out of it; it's spicy and comforting at the the same time.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi five, finally another marrow lover! I would love to try that marrow curry- sounds completely up my alley. Same concept, the marrow would have soaked up all the delicious curry flavours and juices- yum!

      Delete
  10. I have half a giant pattypan squash in my fridge that I don't know what to do with! I curried the other half and I reckon this would work really well! Hmmm it's been there a while though, might have to be for next time!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. This will work brilliantly! Any tasteless mild squash should work. Try it and let me know please :)

      Delete
  11. Your marrow dish looks wonderful and surprisingly not spicy ;-) (Everyone needs a rest from hot food, even me!). Actually I have never had stuffed marrow, but I have been eating it since I was a child. My mum used to put it into vegetable and meat stews (like I did with pattypan squash in Hungarian lecso, remember?): she got lots of it from gardening friends (they would forget the vegetables in their gardens and then in the autumn they would find sometimes really huge monsters). Actually a marrow is an overgrown courgette, isn't it?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hur hur my latest dish IS spicy.. again.. well not too spicy.

      I remember the pattypan squash of course sissi! It's such a great idea adding tastless mild flavoured squashes into flavoursome meat stews because then it absorbs all the flavours and becomes delicious! Our mums had it right!

      Yep it is an overgrown courgette :)

      Delete
  12. Hi Shu Han, very appetizing and refreshing dish. Thanks for sharing your recipe.

    Have a fun day.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Amelia! Thank you for stopping by!

      Delete
  13. I think that sounds lovely - and the first good use of goji berries I have heard of!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's funny because I see it being used here in raw trail mixes and granolas and what-not; but traditionally it's always used cooked, and quite often in savoury soups!

      Delete
  14. Someone has to love the poor marrows! I have made marrow chutney with mine and marrow pickles which were amazing.This dish I can see relies on top quality stock and then I would love it too :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Are the marrow chutney and pickles on your blog Laura? Might have to do a hunt for those recipes– sounds gorgeous!

      Delete
  15. This is a very sweet post Shu Han! It reminded me of an almost-forgotten-about (and rather embarrassing) memory of when my parents grew a marrow in the garden when I was a child and I kept it, painted a face on it, gave it a hat and named it "Mrs Marrow". Trust me, I'm the weirdo haha!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. HAHAHAHA. On my facebook page, my profile picture is one of a marrow (mouth) with two other cut squashes for eyes. We are both weirdos.

      Delete
  16. Haha, weirdo indeed! I can't stand marrow... it has to be the most pointless vegetable in the world, and it's not even possible to buy them here. I never saw it on sale in my life! Isn't it just a grown-up courgette? Why would one not eat it when it was all small and tasty?

    Of course, I'm always willing to try it again in a new method of cooking (as long as it's nothing resembling stuffed marrow... this is what my mother would make every time we got one of the things when I was a kid... dear God!) and I guess I could definitely change my mind. It certainly looks ok. Maybe I could try it with courgette, since marrows aren't really findable here!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It is just an overgrown courgette! But there is so much courgette one can eat before finding that ooh.. they've grown....out of hand....

      NO MARROW BASHING CHARLES I LOVE MARROW

      If you do hate it that much.... well, this would work great with any mild-flavoured squashes, think a pattypan or something similar. But MARROW <3

      Delete
  17. Oh this sounds delicious! I have a marrow given to me sitting on my kitchen counter waiting to be used so I'll give this a go.

    ReplyDelete
  18. Hi Shu Han! My grandmother does something like this but with dried prawns and sometimes she adds pork belly slices. I love it a lot!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. My mum also sometimes adds dried prawns! And although no pork belly slices, the stock is pork-based. So yeah great minds think alike :) All hail mums/ grandmums.

      Delete
  19. i'll be the first admit that I thought you had made a bone marrow dish before I saw the picture. With the help of Wikipedia I finally got it: marrow = squash haha. The dish looks easy to make and awfully delicious and refreshing. Thanks for sharing!

    ReplyDelete