Thursday, September 11, 2008

#2_Ginisang Upo

What is UPO?!! For those of you who aren't familiar with UPO, you might think its an acronym for something. No, these three letters are a word for a vegetable! Yes, very short name for a long size vegetable. They can be as long as two feet when mature and are similar to zucchinis. According to the Philippine Medicinal Plants, by Godofredo Stuart, one of its scientific names is LAGENARIA SICERARIA. Upo's other names are bottle gourd ( Engl.), white pumpkin
( Engl.), Hu-lu (Chin), and others.

There are several ways to cook Upo but my favorite is with shrimps and alamang na must be the Pangasinan and Ilocano blood in me. My friend Erlinda and her family grow them every year along with other plants in their backyard. This summer they gave me one which was more than 2 feet long. In Utah, this is a real treat as this kind of vegetable is scarce.

How to cook the UPO:

First, prep the veggie by cutting both ends off then depending on the size, cut it into quarters crosswise. Take the quartered pieces and cut them into quarters again, but this time, lenghtwise. Scrape out the white part inside where the seeds are hiding, then using a vegetable peeler, peel the skin off each piece and slice them thinly across. It is more time consuming to prep this veggie than to cook it, but its all worth the effort. When cooking I just eyeball the amount of ingredients. You can't go wrong with this dish.


Cooking oil
Sliced upo
Shrimps, cleaned and deviened
Garlic, minced
Onion, finely chopped
Bagoong na alamang

1. In a large skillet or wok, heat some oil and lightly brown the minced garlic
2. Stir in the onion and saute until they turn transluscent
3. Toss in the shrimps and continue to saute for about a minute
4. Stir in the sliced upo and the alamang na bagoong, continue to stir until all the ingredients are well blended together. Put the lid on and simmer until the upo are wilted and cooked, stirring occasionally.

Note that I didn't put any liquid in, that's because the upo will render some liquid in the process. Adding liquid will result to a "soupy" dish.

Note from MaMely:
Light up a scented candles while cooking this dish so the amoy ng bagoong will not linger around the house. It works every time I cook something with bagoong.

My friend, Erlinda harvesting Upo
in her backyard for me.

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