Thursday, December 4, 2008

Ginisang Kalabasa (Sauteed Squash): Serve With Hot Steamed Rice!

If you’re looking for an easy to prepare and easy to like dish, you can always count on any sautéed vegetable. At the top of my family’s list is: squash. It’s rich in Vitamin A (our parents told us that and it's actually true), and sautéing it requires only the staple ingredients in any humble kitchen, thereby making it very affordable (this recipe is enough for three and barely costs 40 pesos). Not bad, right? It’s also kid-friendly because of its sweetish taste – my son could have two servings of rice with this dish. If you haven’t sautéed anything before, this is ideal for your “initiation” in the sautéing department. You can use the same ingredients and procedure for sautéing Baguio beans and sayote. Happy cooking!


1 segment of squash
3 pieces adobo cut or around ¼ cup pork with some fat (or chicken fillet)
1 cup water
1 clove garlic
½ onion
1 tomato
1 Tbsp oil
1 Tbsp soy sauce

Step 1: Boil the Meat
Pour 1 cup of water into a small pot. Boil over high heat then place the pork slices inside. Cook for 5-7 minutes or until the pork doesn't ooze out any blood when pricked with a fork (this is for those who haven't cooked anything other than fried egg - it's the best way for me to gauze the doneness of boiled meat.) Skim off any foam (that's the blood) that floats on the surface.

Step 2: Prepare the Ingredients
Wash the squash and tomatoes. Crush the garlic and peel then cut into three pieces. Peel the onion and slice. Cut off the top of the tomato and slice as well. Scoop out the seeds from the squash and scrape off any soft parts where the seeds used to be. Peel and then slice thinly so that they can cook more quickly. Set aside. When the pork is done, drain and reserve the broth. Cut the pork into small pieces then set aside.

Step 3: Sautee.
Put a tablespoon of oil in a hot pan (use any kind of spoon-it doesn't have to be a set of measuring spoons). Sautee the onions first until they’re limp. At this point they will start to produce that really nice aroma and sizzle. Add the garlic, stir every once in a while to prevent it from burning. It’s burnt when its black and it smells bad. You really would't want this. When this happens, everything will taste bitter and nothing can fix it, as far as I'm concerned. If you don't want to prepare another batch of garlic and onion and wash a pan so you can start over again, then I suggest you make sure that the heat is on medium. On with the sauteeing, you can now add the tomatoes. Stir once in a while as well and cook until these are also limp. Then, toss in the pork. Stir to coat them with the oil that has been flavored with garlic, onion and tomatoes. Season with soy sauce and a pinch of pepper. Stir once more to distribute them then cover with a lid. Allow to heat through - still over medium fire - until the fat is cooked and the pork fat has come out.

Step 4: Cook the Squash.
When pork fat has come out, stir all the ingredients a bit then toss in the squash. Stir to coat it with the oil and cook with the lid on for 3-5 minutes. Then, add the broth where you cooked the meat. Boil. Lower the fire then simmer until the squash is well-cooked. I prefer cooking it until the broth has become thick and turns yellowish. This way it is easy to mash into the rice. Remove from heat and serve with still very hot steamed rice.

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