Tuesday, June 23, 2009

No More Fears...

First Harvest of My Zucchini

OK. Confession time. Be honest. When you read, "I thinned out the young zucchini plants and left only four of them" in my previous post, how many of you went, " 'Only four?' *chuckle* Well, you'll see..." in front of the display? Yeah, I learned a lesson. Definitely.

When I made a quick online search in May, I did find some sites that mentioned the bounty of the crop, but all the authors happened to be living outside Japan. The Japanese websites I read then said more things like, "Pollination may not be successful unless you do it manually" or "Male and female flowers tend not to bloom at the same time," bla bla bla... So I thought that maybe zucchini was difficult to grow in Japan because of the weather or something.

But I started feeling a bit scared as my zucchini plants reached for the sky like this ...

...and both male and female flowers opened one after another...

... and their offspring grew like long balloons being blown up one after another. My parents said that they had never seen anything like this before.

Darn me. No one else but I asked for this. And some of my zucchini grew twice as big as store-bought ones while I was busy with consuming other crops from the veggie garden AND yamamomo.

But finally yesterday, I told myself that it was time to face it.

First I went for "the must" recipe: zucchini bread. The recipe was my good old one, except that I added a pinch of salt this time. (I don't exactly remember why I omitted it when I wrote the above mentioned recipe... Maybe at that time I was using somewhat expensive, rather moist salt. I remember that the salt didn't melt well when sifted with other dry ingredients, and since the zucchini was rubbed with salt beforehand, the saltiness added up to make the bread too salty. So perhaps I wanted to be on the safe side.)

Zucchini Bread

OK. One zucchini disappeared from my sight. And I kept looking for a few more recipes to use a lot of this vegetable at one time, because there were several more that looked almost ready to be picked. Then I bumped into a recipe which turned out to be a lifesaver. It was -- I should copy and paste the name instead of typing -- Kolokithokeftedes!

To try out this Greek dish, I simplified the recipe quite a bit. I didn't use tomatoes or potatoes, and used grated cheese (popular Japanese brand) instead of feta cheese. But still, the "fake meatballs" really tasted like meat and it was AMAZING! :D So tasty!

Kolokithokeftedes Obachan's Version

I made about ten meatballs, or patties -- whatever you call them -- and managed to use up two big courgettes just like that. Oh, I'm soooooooooooo happy! Now I'm not scared any more. No more nightmares of this long, green vegetable chasing me with evil eyes and sharp claws. Hahaha...
(Nevertheless, I'm going to grow less than three plants next year ... or maybe just two.)

And I'm going to experiment some more to make a Japanized version of this dish without cheese so that dad can eat it. I wonder if using katsuobushi (dried bonito flakes) would do... because I know a recipe that uses it to make "fake chicken nuggets." I'll post a recipe if I come up with a great invention.


Carlyn said...

What beautiful zucchini!!! Our weather in New England is so cool and damp with rain that our plants are no where near as nice!! I don't even have flowers yet!!!
A nice zucchini parmesan is delicious! Just substitute zucchini for eggplant. Simple and yummy

ghanima said...

I was going to suggest a moussaka with zucchini instead of eggplant, but really, Carlyn's suggestion isn't much different. Still, I've done it and it's fantastic. You end up using a lot of zucchini, too. I'm so jealous of your garden!

Ea Ejersbo said...

Looks like your zucchini are really flourishing. If you want to keep production down on any of these, just leave the zucchini on that plant to grow large (50-70 cm long) before harvesting - the large ones will keep for months in a cool place, and you just have to remove the seeds (and peel if you prefer) before cooking.
I like to mix thin strips of zucchini with pasta, or make a light summery soup together with herbs and blend it - tastes good with a dollop of sourcream or a little truffle oil on top. :)

Anonymous said...

Hi Obachan,

the bread seems very delicious and I'm tempted to try it. Could you tell me whether the zucchini provides the texture to the bread or also the aroma?


K and S said...

looks delicious, you could also make ratatouille with all sorts of veggies in there too :)

Cara said...

If you can find some real feta made from goatsmilk or sheepmilk, your dad *might* be able to eat it. My mother is allergic to cowmilk, too, and really loves goatcheese :)

But I don't remember, maybe he has the same sort of allergy like my father-in-law. Everytime he comes near near garlic, he gets the typical allergic reaction which makes him scream, complain and voice quite loudly his extreme disgust of everything garlic. Can take hours before it ebbs off.

I love your thingy-khoftedes, they look delicious!

obachan said...

Gee, the weather over there doesn't sound too nice. Hope you see flowers soon.

Zucchini parmesan. OK. I'll keep that in mind (I'll remember to buy parmesan when I go to a bigger city for shopping.)

Yeah, I love moussaka. Actually just the other day, I made something close, using both zucchini and eggplant. I loved it.

Ea Ejersbo;
Oh, that's the trick? Thanks! :D
(To tell you the truth, I cut off some of the female flower buds the other day just to buy some time.)

Mmmmm... zucchini with pasta! Good idea.

Not really. It is a moist quick bread with the aroma of the spices.

K & S;
Yes, I already made ratatouille and took some shots. ;)

I'm not sure if dad can handle goatsmilk, because his problem is not having certain enzyme that breaks down lactose, not really an allergy, and goatsmilk does contain lactose, though less than cowmilk. But it's impossible to buy goatcheese here anyway.

I've never heard of garlic allergy. It's funny! Sounds like my aunt's reaction to natto. LOL

Anonymous said...

My mum makes zucchini pancakes and stirfried julienned zucchini with dried shrimp and harusame noodles.
My friend gaves me all her zucchni flowers which I used to stuff or i soups. The less flowers the less fruit.

Grace said...

I'm going to try your zucchini bread recipe. I made some bread the other day and it was terrible. Dry and just didn't taste good. I too am looking for ways to help use all the zucchini popping from my parent's garden.

If I substitute zucchini in a carrot cake recipe do you think it would come out as moist and flavorful? It has a different consistency so I think it might not.

Also today we went to a carnival in my hometown that had "Japanese" food. They had Imagawayaki made fresh right there. Reminded me of New Year's in Japan.

Grace said...

Also the Kolokithokeftedes look and sound so good! What cheese did you use to substitute? I am going to try this one too.

obachan said...

Zucchini flowers in soup. Never thought about that. Thanks for the idea!

To use zucchini, I think it's safer to stick with a zucchini bread recipe instead of carrot cake. Zucchinis are not as sweet as carrots and much juicier.

Imagawayaki at a carnival?! Wow! It must be good! :D Lucky you.

I have to warn you that my recipe is very light and many non-Japanese people ended up giving it some icing like cream cheese icing. And I do think it's better to add a pinch of salt to the batter.

About the cheese for the keftedes, the container of the grated cheese I used says "process cheese" made from "natural cheese."

Anonymous said...


you could make some korean style zucchini pancakes!! and and and add it into soups, or just grill it with a little salt and pepper and it's gonna taste super fantasticccccc

luv, junita

eilismaura said...

Lovely plants !!!

OMG the last time we planted zucchini the plants tried to take over the world!!!

My husband does not accept that the zucchini is better when picked smaller in size - he keeps trying to grow torpedos.

I think this year we will try again and I will try to be more active in the garden - maybe I can get him to plant a few where I can easily get to them (I have MS so not all areas are easy for me to reach).

Anonymous said...

Hi from the Netherlands, Obachan :)!

Nice courgette harvest there !
Don't worry of having too much zucchini (we call it courgette in the Netherlands), you can always harvest them very young, even a day or 2 after fruit set !
They also taste a lot better at their younger stages !
I grow 8 types this year (2 to 4 plants each) and harvest them at very young stage (or I will be drowned, seriously).
We ate them either cooked, fresh or turn them into pickles (just like pickling cucumbers). It is a very versatile vegetables, baked, grilled, fried (in tempura), stir fried, in fried noodles, in fried rice... turn it into soup, yummm!
Enjoy your harvest !



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