Upo Trials – Part 1!
Sausage, onion & garlic fry.

Per last week’s comment: sadly, my stand-up paddle board (SUP) yoga class was cancelled, so nothing new to report on that front. Apparently everyone else is too chicken or prudent to sign up for September classes on the water, especially during a Seahawks game. Anyway..:

So K________ grew upo, also known as calabash or bottle squash for the first time this year, from some seeds his dad gave him. He was literally getting in touch with his roots (from the Philippines). These squash almost grew to be larger than the neighborhood kids who were checking on their progress every day, and definitely caused more than one random neighbor to stop by and ask who the heck kind of squash it was.

The squash really took to the Pacific Northwest climate. The majority of these dozen squash are still currently occupying 1/3 of my kitchen counterspace. All are at least the size of my calf.
The squash really took to the Pacific Northwest climate. The majority of these dozen squash are still currently occupying 1/3 of my kitchen counterspace. All are at least the size of my calf.

K_______ was kind enough to chop one up for ease of cooking, so one night when my friend J______ generously acquired some Aidell’s pineapple & bacon smoked chicken sausage, I sauteed some onions on medium, threw in the sausage, garlic and upo, and fried it all up for dinner.

Top: raw opo chopped, about 2/5ths of one giant squash. Bottom left: mid-fry, with garlic rice in the background. Bottom right: completed frying.
Top: raw upo chopped, about 2/5ths of one giant squash. Bottom left: mid-fry, with garlic rice in the background. Bottom right: completed frying.

I’m not including steps here, because I’m still sorting out the right amounts so it’s not worth sharing yet. BUT – just in case you think I always make an optimal dish, the photo above is solid proof to the contrary: I crowded the upo, sausage and onion too much, and it kind of steamed itself and didn’t give the sausage as much sear as it could have. I did a last minute save by splitting the batch into two fry pans for space, but only saved about half of it from sogginess.

Final product atop garlic rice!
Final product atop garlic rice!

 

Novelty Rating: 5 of 5
Nothing quite like cooking and eating a squash I’ve never had before, and having seen it grow all summer in my backyard, to boot!
Likelihood of Repeat: 75%
Gotta get those times right..also got to eat more of them squash so I can see my kitchen counter.
Lesson learned:  Definitely don’t crowd the pan. BUT- as a friend reminded me today, “don’t let perfect be the enemy of done.” 100% of my household still enjoyed eating this, even with slightly less seared, crunchy sausage. It is definitely best served atop another filipino specialty, garlic fried rice (it’s exactly what it sounds like). Apparently, there’s a more legit recipe called for ginisang upo I need to try, with ground pork. Stay tuned for an update. I don’t think we’re running out of squash anytime soon.

Do you have a favorite upo recipe to share? Post below in the comments!

2 comments

  1. Can you confirm that you need to remove the peel, like with a hard squash? I was surprised at how hard it is, although in retrospect, should not be surprised as I had read that they can be used as a drinking vessel or musical instrument. Also, have you noticed that the rinds are getting harder over time, or has that remained fairly constant? I think I’m going to attack mine on Sunday.

    1. Hi Tricia-
      Yes, I believe you need to remove the rind, as in, scoop out the meat from the inside. So cutting it in half and proceeding to scoop the middle out may be your best route. I would not wait any longer than Sunday. I just tried knocking on the ones I have (I think they’re bigger than the ones I gave you) and they are starting to sound worryingly hollow to me -but I could be hallucinating. Maybe stretch before you attack it?

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