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.
Gulay sa Gata - Squash and Green Beans in Coconut Milk
- 2 cups cubed kabocha squash
- 2 Tablespoons vegetable oil
- 2 cloves garlic peeled, minced
- 1 whole onion chopped
- 1 knob (1 inch) fresh ginger peeled, sliced thin in 1-inch slices, about 1/2 Tablespoon
- 2 whole large tomatoes sliced
- 1/2 pound fresh shrimps peeled, deveined, heads and tails removed
- 1 Tablespoon shrimp paste; bagoong
- 1/2 cup vegetable broth
- 1 cup canned or fresh coconut coconut milk
- 1 bundle sitaw (long green beans) sliced into 2-inch long pieces, about 2 cups
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon ground black pepper powder
- for serving: steamed rice
- Par-boil the squash in a medium stock pot with water for about 15 minutes till it is slightly soft. Drain then set aside.
- In a large skillet, over medium high heat, add the vegetable oil. Saute the onions, garlic, ginger, tomatoes. Add the fresh shrimps. Continue cooking till shrimps turn pink for about 8 minutes.
- Blend in the broth and the shrimp paste (bagoong). Add the pre-boiled kabocha squash and the long green beans. Cook for about 8 to 10 minutes more till squash cubes are soft.
- Add the coconut milk at this last stage of cooking. Season with salt and pepper. When the liquid starts to boil and vegetables are just about cooked, turn off the heat. (Note: do not let the coconut milk boil too long or it will curdle).
- Serve warm with boiled jasmine white rice.
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Notes on Nutrition: The nutrition information provided is an estimate and will vary based on cooking methods and specific brands of ingredients used.
Did you like this recipe? I have more classic recipes inspired by my late mother’s cooking in my popular cookbook: My Mother’s Philippine Recipes. If you’re learning how to cook Filipino food or a fan of Philippine cuisine, buy my cookbooks and books on Amazon.com sold worldwide in paperback and Kindle format.
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