Saturday, July 3, 2010
Tomato Opo Stew
It's the classic example of a home-cooked Chinese meal, simple and light, yet bursting with umami flavor. Seriously, you'll never find the taste of this dish anywhere in any American-style kitchen (unless it's Asian American). I think Mom calls the flavor xian, which I have concluded after much deliberation and thought to translate to that fifth taste bud that we often associate with Oriental-style food.
Anyway, this stew is made from the Opo melon (picture on the right ), cooked with garlic, dried shrimp (shami), and tomato until it turns into a stew (simmered in tomato juice), then served over rice (although I've tried rice noodles and they are just as good).
It's really simple to make, it's cheap, and best of all, it's delicious. Oh, and did I mention that it tastes even better the next day? But then again, what comfort food doesn't?
Tomato Opo Stew
-2 cloves garlic, minced (for milder flavor, just smash it)
-2 opo squash, peeled and cut into chunks
-4 tomatoes, cut into rough chunks
-About a handful of dried shrimp, soaked in hot water
-2 green onions, chopped
-Chopped cilantro, for serving
-Salt and mushroom seasoning to taste
1. Saute the garlic in oil over high heat until fragrant.
2. Dump in the dried shrimp and sizzle for about 2 minutes, until you can smell them.
3. Add the opo squash and cook for another minute.
4. Add in the tomatoes and cook for 1 minute.
5. Reduce the heat to medium, cover the lid, and simmer until the liquid is reduced (varies depending on how thick you want it).
6. Add salt and mushroom seasoning to taste.
7. Turn off the heat and toss in the green onions. Cover the lid again and let sit for about 2-3 minutes.
8. Serve hot with cilantro over rice or rice noodles.