Leaf-Wrapped Winter Season Squash With Pork and Shiitakes Dish

[Photographs: Tim Chin]

Winter season squash screams fall. * In between garish jack-o’- lanterns, warty gourds, and pumpkin spice whatever, the large, orange fruit is all over in fall. And while I consume and delight in American winter season squash classics–butternut soups, pumpkin breads and pies–” vacation tiredness” rapidly embeds in. Sure, those timeless preparations are reassuring and familiar, however too much of an excellent thing causes taking that good idea for given. So how do you keep squash intriguing? How do you keep it scrumptious? And how do you still record the spirit of fall and household time?

* And, yes, winter season.

My preferred squash dish in current memory was a meal we served at BISq, a dining establishment in Cambridge, MA. We covered big areas of blue kuri or acorn squash in banana leaves and roasted them till they were fork-tender, and we served the squash just, with a relish of pumpkin seeds and herbs. While the meal was straightforward, it transported the fragile tastes and textures of squash and raised them: The banana leaf imparted an herbaceous, earthy taste, and the mild, wet cooking approach kept the squash juicy with no tip of mealiness. The meal advised me of lo mai gai (lotus leaf– covered sticky rice). So why not attempt to integrate those meals?

I’m here to report that squash prepared in lotus leaf is, as my old chef would put it, “nails” (it’s scrumptious). Compared to banana leaves, lotus leaves have a sweeter, extremely tea-like taste that matches the sweet taste of squash. Since of that fragrant strength, I discovered that the meal held up well to the more pungent and tasty tastes generally discovered in lo mai gai: ground pork, dried shiitake mushrooms, garlic, soy sauce, and oyster sauce.

To keep the cooking time reasonably brief and the serving simple, I cut the squash into little pieces and fold them into a prepared mix of the staying active ingredients prior to steaming. Steaming the squash launches a substantial quantity of liquid, which can make the resulting sauce thin and watery, so I likewise include a percentage of cornstarch to bind that excess liquid and produce a shiny sauce that coats the squash uniformly. This is an easy, family-style side meal that can hold its own anywhere– whether it remains in the weekly supper rotation or on the vacation table.

I evaluated this dish with butternut squash, honeynut squash, blue kuri squash, and red kuri squash; they all worked well. If you can not discover lotus leaves, banana leaves work too, however the taste will be various. You can likewise utilize parchment paper in location of the leaves– you will not get the taste the leaves impart, however it’ll still develop a damp cooking environment.

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