Sweet pumpkin soup with ice cream.
As you know, I am very much a happy farmer. Picking a winter melon off the vine, finding a mango that has fallen to the ground (I never pick them off my trees), biting into a perfectly ready guava (home-grown guavas are totally different from store bought ones), eating foot-long slices of papayas with my hands and munching on jack fruit from my 16 year-old tree are simple pleasures I am grateful for. We recently ate the most amazing custard apple from a small tree that we didn't even know we had. If I don't go to the market, I have a choice of choy sum, kang kong, taro, scallions, Chinese celery, basil, Chinese chives, sayur manis, emperor leaves, mint and okra from my garden. The bunga kantan (torch ginger) bush is blooming and my daun kesom are so lush that they look like grass. Time to cook assam laksa. The kampung chickens have been slowly culled from about thirty to two hens, a rooster and about eleven chicks. Stray cats come and grab the chicks and I've grown numb to the chicks' petrified chirps in the middle of the night. Instead, I listen for the thud of mangoes hitting the ground but the tree is too far away. If the chicks find the mangoes before me, I cut away the part they peck and eat whatever's left.
We don't use commercial fertilizer. All decomposable stuff--veggies and fruit peelings--goes into the big compose bin. I haven't bought any soil in years.
The pumpkin from my garden last week was sweet and flavorful with a texture I can't describe--fibrous yet tender? My pumpkin vines grow wild and untended from seeds we throw out. Don't fret if you don't have pumpkins in your garden because I've found that pumpkins sold in the market are mostly home-grown. Look for pumpkins with the deepest orange color. They are sweeter and tend to not have a crunchy texture.
I gave half my pumpkin to a friend and cut off a small chunk from the remainder to make this dessert which I first ate in Singapore a few months ago. I couldn't get coconut ice cream so vanilla it was. I also didn't add any cream to the pumpkin puree because I wanted to taste pure pumpkin puree before the ice cream melted. A spoonful of tiny sago pearls gave extra texture to the puree. Served very cold, this is a good dessert to end a Chinese dinner.
You can substitute the pumpkin with taro. Taro would be even more delicious. I harvested two tiny taros the size of my fist and boiled them with sweet potatoes. The fragrance that filled my house was unbelievable and the taste was unlike any taro I've ever eaten. But I should save that story for another post.
Sweet Pumpkin Soup With Ice Cream
400 gm pumpkin
300 ml water
2 T sugar (optional)
1) Peel and cut the pumpkin into small chunks.
2) Put pumpkin and water into a small pot and boil until soft, about 15 minutes. Stir in sugar if using.
3) Puree with hand blender when still warm. Cool and then chill. If the puree is too thick, add some water.
1/2 cup small sago pearls
coconut ice cream
4) Boil the sago pearls with enough water to cover by 2 to 3 cm. When pearls are nearly transparent (solid white center still visible), switch heat off and leave covered for about 15 minutes. The pearls will turn totally transparent.
5) Drain away the cooking water and fill the pot (with the sago pearls) until half full, stir well to separate the sago pearls and drain through a fine sieve to remove the dissolved starch.
6) Fill small individual serving bowls 3/4 full with the pumpkin puree and add 1 to 2 tablespoon of boiled sago pearls to the puree. Stir well to mix. Put a big scoop of coconut ice cream (or vanilla if you can't find coconut) into the puree and serve immediately.