Thinking about growing some loofas? Here’s an easy and delicious loofa and chicken Thai green curry recipe for you to try!
Loofa (also spelt luffa or loofah) is in the cucumber family and has its origins are in Asia and the Middle East.
The loofas are produced from the yellow flowers of the plant. The small fruit of the loofa can be eaten, while the older fruit can be used as a scrubber.
How to grow loofa
Loofa is a climber, easily grown all year round in full sun in a free draining place with a trellis to climb up. It also loves plenty of water, and is prolific in the wet season, climbing over fences and up trees.
Loofas grow quickly so keep an eye on them, or let the fruit grow large and then dry them in the sun and peel, clean them and remove the seeds to make a scrubber. Feed with organic fertiliser occasionally.
Loofa is easily grown from seed, collected from the dried loofas. Dry the fruit in the sun, and the seeds can be shaken out.
It is best sown directly, but can also be sown in small pots and transplanted out after developing a few leaves.
How to eat them
The loofa fruit is eaten when small – less than ten centimetres long – and soft in the middle, otherwise it is stringy and hard.
The spongy centre can absorb a lot of flavour and is great in curries, stir-fries and many dishes, used much like a zucchini.
The loofa is a source of carbohydrate, protein and some vitamin C.
Loofa and Chicken Thai Green Curry Recipe
Ingredients (serves 4–5):
- 2 loofas
- Approximately 20 pea-sized eggplants
- 1 bunch of snake beans
- 1 medium taro, cassava or sweet potato (about 450g)
- 500g free-range chicken thigh (optional)
- Chilli to taste
- 8 Kaffir lime leaves
- 2 tbsps sesame or peanut oil (for frying)
- 3–4 tbsps of Thai curry paste
- Juice and zest of 3 limes
- 1 tbsp fish sauce
- 500ml fresh coconut milk
- 1 handful of chopped Thai basil, sweet basil or Vietnamese mint
- Chopped coriander leaves
- 1 bunch of spring onions or garlic chives
- Brown rice (to serve)
Prepare all the ingredients, cutting the vegetables into slices and the spring onion into diagonal strips. Cut chicken into pieces if needed.
Pre-boil the taro/cassava/ sweet potato for 10 minutes.
De-seed and then finely chop the chilli and break the lime leaves into little pieces.
Place a wok over medium heat.
Add oil to the wok, and then when hot add the curry paste. After a couple of minutes add the taro/cassava/ sweet potato, and chicken if using.
Cook for 5–10 minutes and then add the lime leaves, other vegetables, the lime juice/zest and fish sauce.
Add the coconut milk.
Simmer for 5–10 minutes more, until the veggies are just tender.
Serve in a bowl, sprinkled with coriander, other herbs and spring onions, and accompanied by brown rice.