Coming into existence on Earth at least as far back as the year 7,000 BC, according to an archaeological site in Mexico, the pumpkin has moved through various places in the world with different cultures, myths and tales. Despite the fact that there are some varieties which can be as small as a finger due to process of hybridization, or some types weighing up to 600kg in the giant pumpkin class, no matter where it appears, the pumpkin is considered “King of nutritional foods”. All the parts of the pumpkin can be consumed. Each cuisine has its own way of cooking pumpkin: to make soup, salads, slow cook with various medicinal flavors, or fry. Chef Do Ngoc Cong introduced a strange yet familiar dish: pumpkin Che, combined with the pandan leaves’ aroma and the very particular sweet taste of red dates kept in cold temperature. It can both dissipate heat and add nutrients to our body on hot days.
PUMPKIN & RED DATES CHEPrint This
- 200g pumpkin
- 50g dried red dates
- 15g fresh ginger
- 5 pandan leaves
- 500ml water
- 170g rock sugar
- 20g roasted sesame
Preparation: Peel the pumpkin, scrape out the seeds, dice up the flesh into 1cm cubes. Peel off the skin of the ginger, smash it. Rinse clean and tie the pandan leaves into a bunch. Rinse the red dates, soak to soften them.
Cook: Put the rock sugar in 500ml of water, bring to boil for complete dissolving. Continue to add the ginger and pandan leaves for another boil in about 5 minutes, then add the pumpkins and red dates. Cook till the liquid boils again, skim off foam on the top, lower the stove temperature and continue to slow cook until the pumpkin properly softens and absorbs the sugar; taste to favor then turn off the stove.
Ladle the Che into bowls, sprinkle the roasted sesame on top, serve hot.
The Che syrup is clear. The pumpkin fully absorbs sugar, is cooked to clear and has a reddish orange color, very eye-catching.
The red dates are fully risen, glossy, and attractive.
Choose the aged pumpkin for a gummy softness. Choose the ginger of adequate size for rendering nice aroma yet not having a bitter taste.
Fresh lotus seed can be added to make the dish tastier.
EFFECTS OF THIS DISH
This dish helps strengthen Qi, nurture the blood, rehabilitate the body, calm the mind, relieve heat, dispel inflammation, treat constipation, increase urine output, subdue coughing. It is very beneficial to persons with asthenic body syndrome, decrease of body resistance, difficulty in digestion; persons with insomnia, absent-mindedness, dry coughing, weakened eyesight, night-blindness, constipation, bronchitis, urinary tract infection, and scanty urination. This dish also has the supplemental effect of treating hepatitis and liver cirrhosis. As to pregnant women, this dish not only helps the fetus develop its brain cells and enhance its vitality, but also helps prevent swollen muscles, the rising of blood pressure and other complications during pregnancy. It also prevents the risk of the baby being infected with dengue after birth.
DO NGOC CONG Hai Dang Hotel Tourist Joint Stock Company (Hai Phong City) Runner-up in the Northern regional semifinal round of the Golden Spoon Awards 2013