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[Recipe] Guinataang Sitaw at Kalabasa (Squash and Longbeans in Coconut Milk)

I have loved this dish as far back as I can remember. As a child my mother used to make this dish and she would make it in such a way that the squash is mashed up almost like a thick paste. I have to admit that I only learned to appreciate longbeans when I was a little bit older.

As a twist to this classic filipino dish, I have incorporated some taba ng talangka (river crab fat) and tuyo flakes. The crab fat  helps provide additional flavor since you won't get much from the dried shrimps. I associate this dish being paired with pinakas na bisugo (butterflied, salted and dried threadfin bream) or something equaly intense in flavor so that is the idea behind adding tuyo flakes to this dish to provide a salty counterpoint to the rich and creamy coconut milk.

Actually there are a lot of dishes in filipino cuisine which plays with this concept of contrasting flavor. You have kare-kare paired with bagoong, tsamporado with tuyo, manga at bagoong, ensaladang kamatis at itlog na maalat, just to name a few.

1 Kilo kalabasa or squash (peeled and diced)
1/2 sitaw or longbeans (cut into 2 inch segments)
400 ml gata or coconut milk
2 pieces medium sized onion (roughly chopped)
3 cloves garlic (minced)
100 grams hibe or dried peeled shrimps
Fish sauce, ground black peppercorn (to taste)
Optional to enhance flavor:
2 Tablespoons taba ng talangka or bottled river crab fat
1 Tablespoon tuyo flakes or dried salted fish flakes

In a large saucepan, saute the onion and garlic in oil until they start to caramelize. Add the dried shrimp (hibe) and cook for another minute. At this point, add the crab fat and mix together cooking for another minute. Add 1/4 cup of water and the diced squash. Cover the pan and let it simmer in low heat until the squash is tender stirring it from time to time. You have the option to cook the squash until it starts to dissintegrate (other people prefer to mash the squash a little so that it forms a lumpy paste - this results in a dish that has a more intense squash flavor for those who prefer it). Stir in the coconut milk and simmer for another 5 minutes. Place the longbeans in the pan and cook further until the longbeans are cooked and the coconut milk has thickened a bit. You will know when the longbeans are cooked by biting into it. It should still retain some of the crunch and yet none of that raw taste left. Season with fish sauce, ground black peppercorns and optionally add in about a Tablespoon of dried salted fish flakes to add flavor.

Serve with freshly cooked rice.

1 comment

Cadencia said...

Appreciaate you blogging this