The long hot summer days have slowly given way to cooler temperatures and winds that grip you with a fierce chill. Right about this time, I start cooking with recipes that are heavy on the belly and soothe our souls with warmth and comfort. This Kabocha Squash and Long Green Beans in Coconut Milk was what I had in mind when the chilly autumn weather set in.
Of all the squash varieties I find in the market the kabocha is my favorite. I grew up knowing this vegetable well. My father even grew some in our backyard when we were kids.
Kabocha squash as it is known in North America is ‘kalabasa’ to most Filipinos. This is the Asian variety of squash. It is also called the Japanese pumpkin. On the outside, it has a sturdy, tough skin which is dark green in color. Yes, it actually looks like a large green pumpkin. On the inside, the flesh is soft, smooth and is golden yellow-orange in color.
Once cooked, the kabocha squash has a sweeter flavor than others. I have cooked this type with crisp vegetable tempura and it was amazing. And I have cooked this squash, too as a sweet yema candy (custard-like dessert rolled as a candy). But my favorite way with this vegetable is to cook it together with long green beans (sitaw to Filipinos), sauté it in coconut milk and a tad of shrimp paste or ‘bagoong’. We also call this dish ‘gulay sa gata’ (vegetables in coconut milk).
For this entree, I put together chunks of kabocha squash, fresh juicy jumbo shrimps, sweet Jersey tomatoes and crunchy slices of long green beans. The slew of warm, thick coconut milk flavored with the sautéed vegetables was incredible with hints of a gingery aroma. I could hardly wait to pour everything on a bed of steaming white rice.
This is the way I like to end a busy day or a crazy week. With a soft, mellow vegetable dish that is unbelievably a warm hug from a bowl.