Tuesday, September 23, 2008

opo squash

'kay. i'm kinda tired, obviously cranky, and i think i'm getting sick. oh joy.

in an effort to combat the cold/flu/virus/whatever-it-is, i took a longer than usual pause in front of the stack of ca grown opo squash at my local market today. even though it was pretty warm today, i thought that soup for lunch would be a good choice. i realized that i hadn't made this opo squash soup in a really long time. it is a soup that i've had since i was a little neophyte foodie hunter. sometimes i eat the soup by itself or sometimes i put a scoop of the soup on top of my rice in my bowl. it is one of those things that i don't know the "official" name of and alas, it is also one of those dishes that you don't find in restaurants either. for some reason, i thought it would be a good dish to make today.

so i sliced up the opo squash into strips.....


i also chopped up some of this lovely fresh cayenne

that my local market had. i typically use dried cayenne or chili flakes. yet, since i came across these...why not try them instead? i sense that there will be some experimenting with fresh cayenne in the future.

after i chopped up the vibrant fresh cayenne, i smashed/chopped some garlic and the white parts of 2 scallion stalks.....next, i chopped the green sections of the scallions and set aside some dried shrimp....


then, i filled a pot with some water, added a handful of the dried shrimp, the chopped cayenne, garlic, the whites of scallions, and some nuoc mam. this is the foundation of the broth. once that was at a full boil for about 5 min or so....i added the squash. the soup is done when the squash becomes translucent...and that is the perfect time to add the chopped green sections of the scallions. this would also be a good time to add chopped fresh cilantro...but alas...as i didn't have all of the brain cells working today (and i can tell that i still don't...things seem kinda hazy at the moment)....i forgot to pick some up. yet sometimes we just have to make do with what we have.

it is a lovely soup and the opo squash gives the broth a nice "mouth-feel" to it...that is a bit unexpected. the majority of the time, you don't expect a clear soup to have that almost "heartiness" to it. especially a soup that contains no potatoes or grains....yet this soup is quite different. despite the heat, the soup helped provide me with a nice burst of energy and i felt almost normal for few hours. sigh. i think i should go to sleep early tonight, maybe that will help.

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