Ginisang Upo at Hipon is the ultimate vegetable side dish! Made of bottle gourd and shrimp, it’s nutritious as it is delicious. Perfect with steamed rice and grilled meat or fried fish.
Bottle gourd, or what we locally know as upo, has to be the easiest Asian vegetable to prepare. Not only does its delicate flesh require only but a few minutes to cook, its mild taste also works well with various additions.
It’s one of my favorite ingredients to cook with and I have many delicious ways to enjoy it such as ginisa with sardines or pork, added to pancit bihon or sotanghon soup, and cooked tinola-style with chicken.
I hope you give these dishes a try. They’re easy to make, budget-friendly, and tasty as they’re nutritious.
How to prepare upo
- Wash under cold running water and with a knife, cut off the stem end.
- Using a vegetable peeler, peel the skin by running down the gourd lengthwise.
- With a knife, cut the peeled upo lengthwise.
- If interior is “too spongy” and has mature seeds, remove the spongy flesh using a spoon and discard.
- Slice the halves again lengthwise into then slice into 1/2 inch thickness. Use in the recipe as directed.
- Choose young bottle gourd or calabash. As the vegetable matures, the edible seeds lose some of their tenderness and the center flesh becomes too spongy and too mushy when cooked.
- Cut the gourd into uniform size to ensure even cooking.
- For best texture, do not cover during cooking as the upo will expel a lot of liquid. Take off from the heat while still tender-crisp as it will continue to cook int the residual heat.
- I like to use the shrimp heads to boost flavor. If using already-peeled shrimp, substitute water and add shrimp bouillon.
How to serve
I like to enjoy this upo and shrimp stir-fry on its own when I want something light yet filling meal, but I love it just as much paired with steamed rice and with fried fish. Delicious!
Leftovers will keep in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Unfortunately, expect changes in texture as the shrimp becomes rubbery and the upo mushy when reheated for too long.
Ginisang Upo at Hipon
- 1/2 pound head-on shrimp
- 2 medium upo
- 1 tablespoon oil
- 1 onion, peeled and sliced thinly
- 2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
- 2 medium tomatoes, chopped
- 1 tablespoon fish sauce
- salt and pepper to taste
- Peel and devein shrimp, reserving heads. In a bowl, combine shrimp heads and 1 cup of water. With the back of a spoon, mash heads to fully extract the juice.
- Strain and discard shrimp heads. Reserve the liquid.
- Cut and discard stem and lower end of upo. Using a peeler or a paring knife, peel skin. Cut the gourd lengthwise.
- If the interior is "too spongy" and has mature seeds, remove spongy flesh using a spoon and discard. Slice halves again lengthwise into halves and then slice into 1/2 inch thickness.
- In a wide pan over medium heat, heat oil. Add onions and garlic and cook, stirring regularly, until softened.
- Add tomatoes and continue to cook, mashing regularly with the back of a spoon, until softened.
- Add fish sauce and cook for about 1 to 2 minutes.
- Add shrimp and continue to cook just until color changes to pink.
- Add upo and stir gently to combine.
- Add 1/2 cup of the shrimp stock and bring to a boil.
- Continue to cook, uncovered, for about 5 to 6 minutes or until upo is tender yet crisp and shrimp are cooked.
- Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve hot.