Sunday, September 22, 2013
Opo Squash Curry
The Diner News for October is all about the mighty, often misunderstood squash. Yesterday at Sprouts, I found this squash that I had never seen before. The Opo. Funny name. Always up for something new, I looked them over, found most had a couple of softer spots, so I asked the produce guy about them. Yah, he read me the name on the sign. Like I couldn't figure that one out for myself. Other than that, he was no help. Knowing that one can Google anything these days, I picked the firmest one of the bunch and put it in the cart. It was the same price as the zucchini, and I was betting they were similar.
My research found that they are similar. But this cutie is far more popular in Southeast Asia,. India and Africa. Just listen to some of the names for it: Tasmania Bean, Peh Poh, Bottle Squash, Yugao, Cucuzza, and Snake Gourd. Any of those appeal? Opo suits me.
I opted to use some flavors from the regions of the world that love this gourd. A simple coconut milk curry. Even though I am the only one in the house who appreciates a good curry. Where did I find these people? This is delish. It has the perfect blend of creaminess and tartness. Cilantro, garlic, a little heat. Oh my. This dish tastes like so many things---just not squash. That is the beauty of it. This squash is so mild that it really does take on the flavors you add to it. But the texture stays a little more solid that zucchini, so the chunks hold up and don't get lost or slimy. Also a bit like eggplant, but not at all bitter.
Opo Squash Curry
1/2 large Opo Squash (about 2 cups diced)
1/4 cup finely diced onion
1 tbsp coconut oil
2 tsp minced garlic
2 tbsp minced lemon balm (or lemon grass)
1 tsp red curry paste
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup coconut milk*
2 tbsp chopped cilantro
1 tbsp lime juice
1/4 tsp hot sauce, optional
2 tbsp diced chives for garnish, optional
Dice the squash into 1/2 inch slices. Quarter the slices. In a large skillet, combine the squash, onion and coconut oil. Saute the squash, stirring occasionally, until it browns on both sides and onion is translucent. Stir in the garlic, lemon balm, curry paste, ginger and salt. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring often. Add the coconut milk and simmer the vegetables until the coconut milk reduces to a thick sauce. Stir in the cilantro, lime juice, and hot sauce if using. Transfer the curry to a bowl. Top with fresh chives and serve. This will serve 2-3 as a side dish, 1 as a vegetarian dinner.
* I used the Sprouts Premium Coconut Milk. It is thick compared to some other brands I have used. My coconut milk reduced in about 5 minutes on the stove, but yours may take longer if it is thinner to start with.
I saved half of my opo to do some more experiments with. That will be in the Diner News come the first of the month. If you have any special squash dishes, please feel free to share. My markets are still holding out on the variety squashes we see this time of year. I don't know about you, but this year, I am planning to buy big and freeze some prepped squash for casseroles later in the year.
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