Friday, April 10, 2009
Gingko Biloba: PAK GOU
When I was little, I used to help Grandpa and Mum gently hammer the Gingko Biloba aka PAK GOU in Chinese in Mum's pestle and mortar. I have to use the right force, too hard, and I mesh the expensive kernel, and too lightly, the shell of the kernel won't crack open. Then we had to gently peel the skin and finally remove the germ. It is this germ which must be removed as it has a bitter taste and could be poisonious. These are then used to make sweets or the filling for the Chinese Glutinious rice dumpling, our CHUNG. It was tedious work and I vowed I would never buy the stuff when I grew up.
But when I grew up, Mum and Grandpa had died. Dad said he loved eating them, and I went to buy the PAK GOU. They retailed more than $25 dollars a kilo. It wasn't so much the money, but the work I anticipated. I told Dad, I buy them, and you hammer them, while I peeled the skin. So there we were having a bonding time, Dad and I. I also heard how good Gingko was for memory and I search and intenet and found that they grew in Canada. So I bought processed Gingko in a bottle. So much easier on the hands. Dad had gone to Heaven, and it is unlikely I would cook PAK GOU again.
I came to New Zealand in the 1970s, little did I know that there are Gongko trees in ther public parks in Auckland until two days ago.
On Thursday, when I sent the elderly couple home, it hailed badly in Auckland. Parts of the roads were white with big blobs of ice. The hail brought down gingko fruits from my friend M's tree. Her husband B picked them up, and she brought it to our dinner. I had never seen a fresh gingko fruit, and I happily accepted.
My friend C said I was lucky because B had already processed the hard bit. Wikipeadiea mentions that the pulp smell like faeces. That was how bad they smelt. C. even said after cleaning the flesh, she could smell it on her body and clothing.
With my stuffed up nose, initially I couldn't smell anything when the water engineer complained how bad it was and only the Chinese would go for such obxious stuff. I made him search the internet so he won't throw them away. I left them on the deck outside, as by now I could smell the awful smell.
After a day in the sun away from the house, they don't smelt as bad. Still the water engineer won't let me take them inside the house.
When they are dried, I will have good nostalgic moments of hammering an dpeeling. Days when I was young. I had already emailed my siblings.
Yesterday, we were early for Good Friday service, we went for a walk in a public park. I saw these little fruits about one inch in diameter.
I asked a little Kiwi boy what fruits they are.
He said," Some Chinese Fruit."
"Are they edible?"
"Yes, the Chinese people pick them all the time."
I stood on one and meshed the pulp. I exclaimed with joy, this is a Gingko tree!!!!! I wish my sister Elizabeth was still here visiting me.
A note of caution, in case you rush out to your garden or park to collect the fruits, remember the pulp smell of faeces.
Read an informative article from the University of Maryland where leaves are used.