May 30, 2007

LP 18: Squash & Shrimp in Coconut Milk


I couldn't resist joining the Lasang Pinoy 18: Oh My Gulay! event. I took one look at the icon (below) and signed up. I mean look at this guy,he's adorable! I wanted to hug him and squeeze him and and call him George. And then I wanted to take him home because I had to have him on my blog.

Lasang Pinoy (lasa meaning taste and Pinoy is slang for Filipino) is a Filipino food blogging event that was launched in Aug. of 2005. Since it's inception, LP has been successful at setting the stage for promoting Filipino cuisine and ingredients native to this country, as well as providing a venue for the sharing of ideas and discoveries related to Filipino food. Though this is my first time to contribute to LP, I have eagerly followed many of the past events and round-ups.

This month's LP is all about vegetables or gulay in our native tongue, and is hosted by Toni of Wifely Steps. For those who aren't familiar with the expression, "Oh my gulay!" is a Taglish (Tagalog+English) version of "Oh my God!", "Oh my gosh!" or "Oh my goodness!". I may be wrong and may be speaking only for myself when I say that I think our Taglish version was born out of the fear of taking the Lord's name in vain. We were always scolded and admonished by our elders when we did, so when shouting it out in front of them, we grab hold of ourselves at the last minute and make that crucial switch to "Oh my G-gulay!!!"

According to Jeffrey Steingarten in The Man Who Ate Everything, we are omnivores by destiny and food aversions are not something we are born with but something that is learned. A food aversion is no different from a phobia or fear which can only be overcome by exposure. The more we are exposed to something at moderate amounts and at regular intervals, the sooner we conquer the aversion. Steingarten asserts that "most babies will accept nearly anything after eight or ten tries." (So don't give up, moms!) I think he is definitely on to something here.

Now I love vegetables big time but I didn't always like kalabasa or squash, in fact I hated it as a kid almost as much as I hated ampalaya (aka bitter gourd, bitter melon or amargoso). And because I was never forced to eat it, I didn't. But you see, when I was growing up I idolized my older sisters. I worshipped the ground they walked on and I wanted to be like them in every way. So I followed them around, mimicking their movements, their fashion sense and their expressions. What I didn't realize was that I was also unconsciously taking on their likes and dislikes.

So when one day I noticed my sister Ginny eating kalabasa during lunch, I did a double-take. But-but we both hated kalabasa!? What is she doing? I was confused and even felt slightly betrayed. Ugh! Now I have to eat kalabasa too!? I barely remember how I liked it the first time because I was pinching my nose throughout the ordeal. On the second try, I had to admit it wasn't half bad. On what was probably my fifth encounter with kalabasa, I could taste the beginnings of an amicable relationship which gradually evolved into a full-blown love affair. Steingarten and those scientists were right! And if it weren't for my crazy sibling idolatry, maybe I still wouldn't be enjoying those creamy pumpkin soups today or those nice roasted butternut squashes, or even this dish below.

This is something I learned to make while still living abroad and craving home-cooked Filipino food. It is a modified version of a recipe I had found online many years ago, and in which I originally used butternut squash. It is not your usual ginataang kalabasa (squash in coconut milk), it has a pinkish hue from the tomato paste and the chili gives it a nice punch. But it's still smooth and creamy and flavorful like mom's. If you like squash and you like things cooked in coconut, I guarantee you will love this.

Squash & Shrimp in Coconut Milk
Ginataang Kalabasa't Hipon

1 cup chicken broth
1 1/2 tsps brown sugar
2 tsps tomato paste
1 tsp chili flakes
1 can coconut milk (I used Nestle coco evap this time)
2 cups squash, cubed
1/2 kg shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 tsp patis or fish sauce (optional)

Mix together the chicken broth, brown sugar, tomato paste, chili flakes and coconut milk in a saucepan. Add the squash and bring to a boil. Slow it to a simmer then season lightly with salt and pepper, simmering until squash is tender. About 15 minutes or so. Throw in the shrimp and calamansi juice and continue simmering until shrimp is cooked.

Best served with steamed white or brown rice.

Check out the other delicious entries on the LP 18: Oh My Gulay! round-up here.


Anonymous said...

Nens! I did the "other" veggie we both don't like...wanted a challenge ;)

That squash dish sounds like something I would really like...I do like squash in all its forms :)

Anne said...

This is quite different from how we usually cook it but nevertheless I'm sure this is tasty :)

Unknown said...

Nens, haha! How can I forget our carnivor years! It had to be fried chicken every lunch or I wouldn't eat. Now, I can't eat without "gulay". I so love it now and this squash dish is a favorite. I mash the squash most of the time and make it soupy.

christine said...

Jo, you have inspired me to finally try ampalaya. Next time our cook makes it, I'll take the plunge and let you know how it goes. :)

Hi Anne, it's pretty tasty! My mom's version doesn't include tomato paste or chili, like the typical version. I like this one a lot better. :)

Gins, I have you to thank for this! :) It was really funny how I would always assume I didn't like something just cause you didn't like it. I was really your tail!

Anonymous said...

I'm sure I'd love this -- squash, coconut milk AND shrimp in one dish?! No question!

Anonymous said...

wow sarap nyan

that lasang pinoy is a worthy endeavor. Filipinos should elevate the state of pinoy cuisine to an artform so as to be noticed by the world and lure tourists here in this country forver lurking in the doldrums of tourism

christine said...

Katrina, my thoughts exactly! I like anything cooked in (or served with) coconut milk, and shrimp and squash go so well together in this sauce.

Tutubi, well said. :) And the Filipinos are definitely well on their way to that goal. Filipino cuisine is finally being recognized worlwide, albeit slowly, as evidenced in such top publications as Saveur and the like.

Anonymous said...

I love squash and shrimps, and gata! Of course I love simple and no-fuss food.. So this is perfect!
Thanks to LP 18 for bringing me to your blog. Will be back for more yummy fills :)

Anonymous said...

That's absolutely yummy looking. I'm always on the lookout for recipes of veggies I don't cook much of. Yours is one I'd like to try.

christine said...

Hi Chateau! Like you, I appreciate simple no-fuss food too. I usually associate this kind with comfort food. Thanks for dropping by! :)

Hi Kaoko, please do try it when you get the chance. I think you'll be very happy you did. Please let me know how you like it, k. :)

Heart of Rachel said...

I love ginataang hipon with kalabasa. My husband often cooks it but your version is very interesting. I'm curious about adding tomato paste and chili flakes. Since I don't cook, I'll tell my husband about your interesting recipe. It's worth a try. Thank you for sharing.

Anonymous said...

just the way i like it! creamy... really really creamy (wait, that doesn't sound very nice) LOL.

Anonymous said...

hi christine,
kalabasa isn't on top of my list but i eat it and especially love ginataang kalabasa sa gata! yours look so creamy! great entry!

christine said...

Hi Heart of Rachel! The same thing went through my head but when I tried it, it was truly a eureka moment! I hope you give it a try. :)

Dhey, haha! It sounded good to me! Just the way I like it too :D Thanks for dropping by.

Hi Ces! thank you! I haven't gotten around to reading the other entries yet but will do so this weekend. I've already spotted some I'd like to bookmark, yours included since I;ve only ever made cauliflower au gratin. I love the idea of making it with almonds. :)

Anonymous said...

This is one of my super-favorite dishes! In fact it's my default dish when I have squash and not wanting to fuss with a recipe. Thank you for sharing!

christine said...

Hi Stef, you're most welcome! :) said...

It can't truly work, I think this way.