Angled luffa, ridged luffa, silk gourd, Chinese okra
Sin quas originated in India, but are now grown in many parts of the world. They are long slender gourds distinguished by the 10 ridges which run from tip to tail.
Sin qua vines are usually planted in spring and grown up and across a head-high trellis. The gourds hang below the foliage, making them easy to harvest. Sin quas are extremely productive plants, a single vine can produce up to 25 large fruit. They grow best in a warm climate and are sometimes produced inside greenhouses. Sin quas should be picked while still immature (15-40cm long) to avoid them becoming fibrous and tough. While they can be stored for a time, they easily lose water, becoming soft and spongy.
Good quality sin quas should be bright, glossy and firm. Sin quas have a slightly spongy texture and mild flavour somewhat similar to zucchinis. To prepare them, the hard ridges should be cut off with a potato peeler. The rest of the skin can be left on if the vegetable is young and tender; this also gives the slices an attractive striped pattern! It can then be steamed, stir fried, grated into an omelette or fritter or added to soup.