Sunshine (Kabocha) on a Cloudy Day: Ginataang Kalabasa at Hipon

The one nice thing I can recollect from my dark, dank and horrible October (besides it becoming November) is this Headhouse purchase-promted dish: warm, creamy, comforting Ginataang Kalabasa.

I came home from the market one week with an irresistible sunshine kabocha.  Kabocha — also known as Japanese pumpkin — is a fantastic squash variety from, you guessed it, Japan (though originally Cambodia). It has a wonderful sweet chestnut flavor that is certainly one of my favorites.  The sunshine varietal doesn’t have a distinct taste profile, but it sure does look pretty, don’t you think?

On one of those cold blustery days it beckoned — “Stew me…..steeeewwww me.”  So I did.

In an effort to bring the kabocha back to it’s roots, I went for a Filipino-style preparation called ginataang, which basically means “stewed in coconut milk.”  The only protein I had on hand were some lovely large shrimp from Whole Foods stashed in the freezer, so the dish became Ginataang Kalabasa at Hiponkalabasa referring to the “pumpkin” and hipon to the “shrimp.”

Aside from the initial effort needed to cleaver the kabocha in two, this is a super easy dish to throw together — under 30 minutes from squash to table.  And like that’s not enough, it’s basically the culinary embodiment of the large, generous and warm Filipino mother you likely never had – well, the one I never had, at least.  On a cold, blustery day, nothing could be more comforting.

Ginataang Kalabasa at Hipon

(Kabocha Squash and Shrimp Simmered in Coconut Milk)

gluten free, can be vegetarian/vegan

Serves 2-3

-1 kabocha squash,* peeled, seeded and cut into 1-1.5 inch cubes
-1 small white/yellow onion, diced
-4 garlic cloves, crushed
-1 cup broth or stock
-2 chili peppers, tops removed
-1/2 pound shrimp, shelled and deveined (can use cubed tofu to make vegan/vegetarian)
-2 cups coconut milk**
-1/2 tsp fish sauce (optional)
-Salt and pepper to taste

  1. Heat a wide pan coated with nonstick spray. Add the onion and garlic and saute until the onions are translucent, about 5 minutes.
  2. Add the chicken broth, whole chili peppers (although you can split open and remove the seeds if you’d like less heat) and squash pieces – along with salt and pepper to taste. Bring to a boil and then lower to simmer for about 15 minutes, or until the squash is tender but still holds shape.
  3. Add the shrimp, coconut milk and fish sauce. Simmer for another 3 to 5 minutes, stirring, until shrimp is opaque.
  4. Serve over nice fresh rice 🙂

*Feel free to use any winter squash you have on hand!

**I, of course, use reduced-fat coconut milk.

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