My grandmother makes the most wonderful steamed buns and water dumplings, and an amazing wok-fried squash dish. She uses kabocha squash, a lovely japanese variety, with a vibrant golden flesh that in my opinion, is much sweeter and creamier than butternut, acorn, calabaza, or other varieties. Its texture is drier, much like a potato or sweet potato.
The beauty of this dish is the wonderful simplicity in its preparation. (The skin is left on to cook.) The integrity of the flavors of the kabocha are preserved and beautifully highlighted. My grams taught me step by step how to clean the kabocha and cook it. We had the sweet starchy dish, along with smoked tofu, and steamed buns for lunch one day.
one 2-lb kabocha squash, scrubbed clean
1/4 – 1/2 cups water or vegetable stock
2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1 stalk scallion, white parts only, thinly sliced
2 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
1 tsp MSG**
oil, for frying
1. Scrub the squash clean under running water. Split open and clean out the seeds and fibers. Cut the squash into 1″ pieces and set aside.
2. Heat 2 Tbsp of oil in a wok over high heat. Add the squash and stirfry vigorously to coat all sides with oil to lightly sear. Add in the garlic, scallion, salt, pepper, MSG, and water or stock. Stir to combine.
3. Cover the wok with a tight lid, and let cook for about 15-20 minutes, until the squash is soft and creamy. Serve hot.
**MSG is commonly used in China. However, it’s completely optional.