Here's another post that I wrote for my first blog, Cu'Pie Bird Says Chirp. Chirp. FYI: I slightly edited the post for today. Tomorrow, I shall be back to regular posting. Maybe.
Gourds for the Eating
(originally published November 20, 2008)
Taboongow is the Ilokano word for upo, which is the Tagalog name for the gourd. (Please note that I’m phonetically spelling ta-boong-ow according to what my American ears hear.) Many people think of this vine-growing vegetable as an ornamental plant to dry and use for display or to make into crafts or musical instruments. Taboongow is also yummy to eat when they are still fresh. If you eat the gourd young, you can eat the center white part as well. Otherwise, you cut it away so you cook only the light-green part.
There are many types of gourds. Taboongow is known as the bottle gourd. They are light green and smooth-skinned. They may grow straight, roundish, or curvy. They are not to be confused with the bitter gourds (bittermelon) or the ridged gourds, which are made into loofahs when the fruits are dry.
The Daddy grew taboongow every year and when he passed away years ago, the Mama continued the annual sowing. In recent years, she lets the vines climb up the fruit trees in the back yard. This year, the Mama had a decent crop. We have been eating taboongow almost once a week since summer. Usually, when the Mama cuts up a fruit, we cook part of it into a soup and she freezes the rest uncooked for the winter. This year, the Mama and I decided we’d just cook each fruit she harvests and freeze cooked portions.
Taboongow doesn’t have a strong taste. In other words, it works with almost any spices and herbs you want to add to it. I’ve experimented a lot this year. So far it has tasted good with a curry, coconut, basil and thyme, or cilantro base. I’ve cooked it with shrimp, bacon, chicken, tofu, fish, or pork. All good. I’m sure it would taste good with beef. Hmmm.
Taboongow soup is one of my favorite dishes. The basis of my soup goes like this: Sauté onions and garlic. Add chicken or pork, if you’re using it. Once meat is brown, add tomatoes. Once tomatoes are broken up, add any herbs and/or other veggies (bell pepper, celery, etc.). Add up to 1 cup of water. Put lid on and simmer until meat is almost done. Now, stir in taboongow so it is coated with the liquid. Cook until the taboongow is translucent.
Things to note: The fruit is 90 percent water, so your soup will get a bit more flavorably soupier. (Are there such words? asked the Husband) Also it has been years since I’ve added salt to my cooking. So, add in salt where you normally would when making a soup.