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Pumpkin and Konnyaku Stewed in Milk

I'd originally planned to make myself stewed pumpkin with soy sauce, a touch of konbu and strips of konnyaku, which is one of my favourite things to keep around in the fridge to have with rice. The soy sauce, with a little mild fish-based broth and the kombu help season up the pumpkin and konnyaku, so it actually tastes better when left alone for a while. A chance read of someone mentioning pumpkin and bechamel sauce lasagna on a Yelp forum, however, got me thinking of a cream sauce instead. I then wondered about the possibilities of konnyaku gently boiled in milk. Konnyaku has a gentle flavour when cooked, almost totally bland, with a hint of purple yam and a very slight fishiness that goes away with cooking. It seemed suited to the mild sweetness of milk. Combined with pumpkin, it might work out.

Googling forth for "konnyaku milk recipe" and "konnyaku cream sauce recipe", I quickly discovered that half of the Internet was making terrible and wrong vegetarian concoctions using this wonderful ingredient (konnyaku blended milkshake, I'm talking to you), while the other half was stuck at making jellies. I did find delightful recipes at Just Hungry, but really, I don't think the lady behind that site has ever put up a non-delicious recipe, ever. In other words, konnyaku with milk was going to be an experiment.

I gently stewed pumpkin chunks in very little water, added a small amount of milk (just enough for a light sauce, with the barest amount of natural thickening from the pumpkin), and added the diced konnyaku and a hint of cilantro on top. After a brief simmer, I poured it over steamed rice. The dish I got was mildly sweet, both from the milk and the pumpkins. The pumpkin I bought needed a couple of small Chinese crystal sugar pieces to enhance its flavour, but I think it worked well. The konnyaku did go nicely with the milk, absorbing some of that inherrent richness and creaminess of milk. It really doesn't have much of a flavour otherwise.

I probably won't try this again, though this is hardly because I thought it tasted bad - I'm afraid konnyaku does need strong flavourings, for which this just didn't offer much. It was an interesting experiment. Tomorrow, I'm making pickled konnyaku. And attempting my favourite thing of pumpkin with diced century eggs instead of konnyaku (same texture, more crunch retention and it's pickled with tea and salt). Maybe I'll be able to get myself some fried tofu...

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