Awhile ago I rattled on in this blog, about the venerable member of the kale and cabbage family: kohl rabi, a veggie of poverty-based childhood. Here’s another: butternut squash. It was a cheap buy when my mother could turn a 25-cent whole squash at that time, into a supper dish to grace alongside with rice and maybe one other food dish.
She would make different stir-fried variations of butternut squash: large cubed squash sautéed with onions, abit of fresh minced ginger root and a jot of soy sauce. Sometimes this was added halfway to slices of beef already cooking in the large pan. We ate this dish a lot late summer into early winter after buying and squirreling away in the cool basement, many of these squash.
She stuck to butternut squash for us, since this cooking method does gently carmelize the orange hard flesh to softer, naturally savoury yet sweet chunks. Spaghetti squash, acorn squash and other squash relatives were ignored over this sweeter variety. It’s a perfect healthy dish since there’s no sugar nor fat added to this dish. She even makes it as an introductory food for her grandchildren starting on solid foods.
A Dish for Lean Years of Survival
I have not seen this dish on any Chinese restaurant menu yet. From my mother’s perspective and also from her family during those hard years, it was more a dish of survival she invented in Canada.
Nowadays I search hopefully for a price drop in butternut squash during its fall harvest. Now, squash chicness is directly related to its rising farmers’ market stock prices over the past few decades: butternut squash value has shot up 100% in most Canadian cities.
However I’m happy to report that some rural areas still don’t care to buy enormous amounts of it for their local meals. I did pounce upon butternut squash at $1.00 per large yellow-orange baby, at roadside market stands in Huron County when I was visiting Dresden in southwestern Ontario. If I hadn’t already reached my airflight free baggage limit, I would have dragged couple of these babies onboard.
Sometimes I diversify stir-fried butternut squash with sliced mushrooms (white, brown or shitake), fresh finely smashed and minced lemongrass, smashed minced garlic, red peppers or with fresh basil or thyme. However Jack leans heavily on whipping up squash soup that may have carrots, apple or ripe pear pureed with a hand-held immersion blender. The soup is fashioned with a base of cubed squash cookedwith fresh minced ginger, garlic and onion. With a dollop of yogurt or sour cream when the soup is served in a bowl, it’s an elegant, simple yet healthy meal.
There’s way more to savouring butternut squash than just the humdrum style of just baking or roasting a squash half in the oven. Go cross-cultural to perk up your butternut squash meal!