Ginisang Upo at Hipon

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 ½ inch thickness. Use in the recipe as directed.

Cooking tips

  • 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.

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