Here's my take on another Filipino classic Ginataang Kalabasa.
Ginataang [ghee-nah-tah-ahng] Kalabasa is traditionally made with calabaza (kalabasa in Tagalog - one of the major languages spoken in the Philippines), sitaw (longbeans), pork belly, shrimp, shrimp paste and coconut milk. There are plenty of recipes out there if you're interested in cooking the more traditional version.
I wouldn't say I went too far off from the classic, but I did add my own twist. I love this dish and will definitely be cooking it again and perhaps trying it with other types of meat. I think the sauce would make an excellent base for a fish stew.
Shrimp in Coconut Milk with Calabaza and Okra
Prep: 20 mins
Total: 35 mins
1/4 of an onion, minced
1 clove of garlic, minced
1 thumb-sized piece of ginger, peeled and sliced lengthwise. You want it big enough so you can remove the pieces before serving
2 strips of thick bacon or 1/4 lb of pork belly, cut into 1" pieces
1/2 tomato, cut into cubes
2 tsp THAI KITCHEN roasted red chili paste*
12 shrimps in shell, peeled, cleaned and deveined (save shells)
10 okras, cut into 1" pieces
1 1/2 lbs. of Calabaza, cut into 1" cubes
1 1/2 cups chicken broth
1 cup coconut milk
1 tsp canola or vegetable oil
Patis (fish sauce), salt and pepper to taste
*If you can't find roasted red chili paste, you can attempt to make your own but it requires a lot of additional ingredients. I was able to find it at Whole Foods.
step 1. Clean shrimps and save shells for broth. I wrote a separate post on how to clean and prepare shrimp.
step 2. Make broth. Take shrimp shells and boil with 1 1/2 cups of chicken broth with 1 tsp of kosher salt and a dash of black pepper. Set aside.
step 3. Heat up oil in a medium size pot. Add onions, garlic, ginger and a dash of salt. Cook for a couple of minutes until translucent. Add the thick bacon/pork belly. Add the tomatoes once you notice that the garlic is starting to brown. Add the grilled chili paste and mix well.
step 4. Add in shrimp and a dash of patis/fish-sauce. Cook for a couple of minutes, don't fully cook the shrimps. You just want the flavors in the pot to be quickly absorbed by the shrimps. Fish out the shrimps and set aside.
step 5. Add calabaza and okra and add another dash of patis and a pinch of salt. Cook for 5 minutes.
step 6. Pour in broth and scrape the bottom of the pan and loosen browned bits at the bottom of the pan.
step 7. Add 3/4 cup of coconut milk (reserve 1/4 c for later) and mix well. Lower the heat and allow to simmer for 15 minutes or until the calabaza is fork tender. **Some folks probably boil the calabaza separately prior to adding it.
step 8. Add shrimps back and pour the remaining coconut milk over the shrimps and carefully mix. Cook for three or four minutes or until the shrimps are fully cooked. Taste and check the seasoning. You may want to add another dash of fish sauce or more chili paste for more heat - depends on your taste buds!
step 9. Fish out ginger pieces and serve with rice.