Gấc fruit or red sweet gourd is a well-known fruit in Việt Nam, thanks to its high nutritional value and bright red colour.
It is a fruit of the gourd family that has a prickly outer skin and soft flesh inside. Thanks to its bright red flesh, gấc fruit is widely used in processing food.
Gấc fruit (Momordica cochinchinensis) contains ten times the amount of beta-carotene than carrots or sweet potatoes.
According to the Times Foodie page, the prickly fruit is a rich source of protein and iron and is low in calories, making it very healthy. It regulates blood sugar levels, boosts immunity, is good for eye health, protects against cancer, improves digestion and protects the liver, is good for brain function and delays ageing.
|'Gấc' fruit is popular in Việt Nam. — Photo cooky.vn
According to nutritionist Nguyễn Thanh, gấc oil contains beta-carotene, lycopene and alpha-tocopherol, which can kill 75 per cent of cancer-making substances in general, especially breast cancer.
The amount of lycopene is 70 times higher than that found in the same amount of tomatoes.
The fruit has long been used in Vietnamese culinary thanks to its nutritions and beautiful bright red colour.
Here are some suggestions for the most popular dishes for main course, starter and dessert.
Sticky rice with gấc fruit
Vietnamese people think red represents good luck. Red sticky rice is a main course that is never missing in Việt Nam.
|Sticky rice with 'gấc' fruit is a nutritious main course in the Vietnamese traditional food set. — Photo cooky.vn
The ingredients needed are: a ripe gấc fruit (200g), 400g of sticky rice, 30g of sugar; 150ml of coconut juice, a half spoon of salt, and 5ml white wine.
The sticky rice is soaked in water for about four hours with some salt.
The fruit flesh is mixed with the wine and salt and the soaked sticky rice; and then added with coconut juice up to the taste.
The mixture is then steamed for 40 minutes. When it is cooked, add some sugar.
The sticky rice is best served hot. The bright red will make the food more vivid.
Stew beef with gấc fruit
For four people, you should prepare: 500g of beef, one ripe gấc fruit, one potato, some coriander; some chopped garlic, some cinnamon sticks, two star anise, some pepper, three bay laurel leaves, some wine, a spoon of five-spice powder, curry powder, and some salt and sugar.
Beef should be cut into small square pieces, blanched in boiling water for 30 seconds, and left to cool.
The gấc fruit flesh should be mixed with the wine. Carrot and potato should be cut into pieces.
Cinamon sticks, star anise, pepper and bay laurel leaves should be baked on a saucepan for five minutes before being broken and put into a small cloth bag.
The beef is then marinated with the gấc flesh, sugar, salt, minced pepper, favouring powder and curry powder for 30 minutes before being stirred in fat and garlic for five more minutes. Add 500ml of water, and stew for 20 minutes over a small fire.
|Stew beef with the prickly gourd. — Photo dienmayxanh.com
Put in potato and carrot, add more flavours to taste and boil till everything gets well-cooked. The nutritious dish should be served hot with fresh coriander and some bread or fresh rice vermicelli. It is highly recommended in cold weather.
Stewed chicken with gấc fruit
As with the stewed beef, stewed chicken with gấc fruit is recommended for cold days, as it can bring along energy and warmness.
One should prepare a chicken, some shallots, one onion, some ginger, some garlic, a spoon of corn powder, 100g of potatoes, a spoon of five-spice powder, a table spoon of oil, some sugar, some salt, and pepper.
Mix the cut potatoes with some salt, sugar and pepper and leave for ten minutes.
The cleansed chicken should be cut into pieces of 3-4cm. Take half of the flesh of a gấc fruit to marinate with the chicken, together with some salt, sugar, flavour powder, pepper and chopped shallots. Leave the mixture for 30 minutes.
Stir the potato in fat with the rest of the gấc flesh, along with garlic and spices.
Put the chicken mixture in another saucepan and stir for 12 minutes before adding some 1.5 litres of water and stewing over a low fire. After 15 minutes, put the potato in and add some sugar. Stew the mixture for another 15 minutes until all the ingredients are well cooked.
The dish should combine the tenderness of the fresh chicken, the softness and sweetness of the potato together with a tasty broth. The chicken can be dipped in salt, pepper and lime juice mixture. The dish should be served hot with bread, fresh rice vermicelli or steamed rice.
Sweetened gấc gruel
This dessert is prepared with 500g of sticky rice powder, 1 ripe gấc fruit,200g of mung bean, two spoons of tapioca starch, 200g of sliced coconut, 100g of roasted peanut, a can of coconut cream, some ginger, 400g of sugar and some salt.
|Sweetened 'gấc' fruit pudding -- a good dessert for the health of eyes and skin. — Photo dienmayxanh.com
The easy-to-make dessert is good for women thanks to its high amount of vitamin E.
Mung beans should be soaked in water for three hours before being well-steamed. The bean is then minced and stirred on a saucepan over a small fire. Add some salt and sugar to the minced bean and form it into many small balls.
Gấc flesh is mixed with coconut water in a juice maker with some sticky rice flour to turn into a smooth mixture. The mung bean balls should be put inside the red sticky rice cover and boiled in water. When the balls turn into bright red colour, take the balls out into a bowl of cool water.
To make the pudding, mix the tapioca starch with some salt, some sugar and some water and boil all to make a thick mixture. Put in some ginger to create a strong hot ginger flavour. Then put the well-boiled balls in and boil for five more minutes.
The sweet gruel with red sticky balls can be served hot or cold with a topping of roasted peanut. You can add broken ice to make it cool rather than putting the dessert in the fridge, where the sticky rice balls may turn hard.
One of the best ways to enjoy fresh sweet gourd is making a smoothie from the fruit.
You will need a gấc fruit, 100ml soya milk, one green apple, 250ml boiled water and some salt.
|A 'gấc' fruit smoothie is perfect in the summer. — Photo An Nhien facebook
First, you turn the gourd inside out, mix with the water and boil on a small fire while gently stirring the mixture to prevent it from being burnt.
After five minutes the sauce is boiled. Add some salt and cook for 10 more minutes. The sauce should turn a little thicker.
You cut the apple into small pieces, put it in with 50ml of the sauce and the soya milk. Put the mixture in a juice maker to blend.
Then add the rest of the sauce and blend again.
The juice will have eye-catching red colour and a fresh sweet taste.
It will be a unique drink to start your day or enjoy on your break.
It will taste even better in the fridge or with some ice. You can use cow milk instead of soya milk and other fruit instead of apple. VNS