Thai Curried Opo Squash and Peppers

Opo squash is stir-fried with onions and bell peppers, then simmered with Thai curry and coconut milk. Thai Curried Opo Squash and Peppers is a perfect side to go with your favorite Asian-style main dish, and ready so quickly!

Thai Curried Opo Squash and Peppers A cast iron skillet with Thai curried opo squash, bell peppers, and onions with a wooden spoon and bowl of rice.

We keep moving forward, opening new doors, and doing new things, because we’re curious and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths.

~~ Walt Disney

👩🏻‍🍳 Tamara Talks – About Curried Opo Squash

Have you ever heard of opo squash? I certainly had not!  😯 However, I am a curious cook, and when I saw them at my local market, I knew I had to try them. Thai Curried Opo Squash and Peppers is one of my recipes that was an experiment, and I’m always relieved when my experiments work well… I mentioned this obscure ingredient in my last post – Thai Curried Snapper in Banana Leaves. We prepared them to have alongside our fresh gulf snapper and Coconut Rice.

About Opo Squash

2 whole and 1 sliced green opo squash.

Opo squash is considered to be “specialty produce,” being more commonly found and used in Asian countries. It is a member of the Cucurbitaceae family, and is a calabash type of squash. This cylindrical shaped squash is typically harvested when it is 10 to 15 inches long, and when it’s young, the seeds and skin are tender.

Its mild flavor reminds me of a summer or chayote squash. Opo, like all calabash squash varieties, requires a long, warm growing season. McAllen, of course, has a long, warm growing season, which probably explains why I see them in our markets even in the winter months.  🙂

The Chinese stuff and then steam or bake them. They can be cubed and added to stews, or sliced for a stir-fry.

How do I choose opo squash?

As opo squash matures, the seeds become woody and the skin becomes tough. If possible, choose young opo squash (less than 10 inches). If your squash is longer, you will want to peel the squash, slice lengthwise, and scoop out the fiber and seeds inside.

Is opo squash healthy?

Opo squash, with its mild flavor and low calorie count, is a healthy and versatile vegetable.

2 opo squash alongside red, yellow, and orange mini bell peppers on a wood cutting board.
  • low in calories
  • high in fiber
  • vitamin C
  • folate
  • calcium
  • iron
  • zinc
  • B vitamins

📋 Ingredients Notes

Stir Fry

  • oil – Refined coconut oil (high smoke point) is my preferred oil. Canola, vegetable, or peanut oil is fine too. The stir fry requires a very hot pan…
  • opo squash – Choose young opo squash if possible. If you can’t find it, chayote, zucchini, yellow, grey Mexican squash, etc. are delicious as well.
  • sweet bell peppers – I love colorful food, so I use a variety. I like to buy the mini peppers for this dish.
  • onion – Red, white, or yellow onions are all fine.
  • garlic – I keep minced garlic on hand as a shortcut, but freshly minced is perfect!
  • fresh ginger – I keep ginger root in my freezer, scrape the skin, and grate it on my microplane. Minced ginger in a jar is a great time saver.

Sauce (if not using reserved marinade)

  • coconut milk – I almost always use lite coconut milk to reduce fat and calories. The choice is yours.
  • Thai green curry paste – I occasionally make homemade green curry paste, but I always keep a tub of green curry paste in my refrigerator.
  • fish sauce – Fish sauce is not vegetarian. You can substitute tamari soy sauce if this is a concern.
  • fresh lime
  • brown sugar
  • garlic
  • fresh ginger
  • fresh herbs – I garnish the opo squash with cilantro and/or basil. Fresh mint is another nice option.

🔪 Instructions

Sliced opo squash in a green bowl with sliced onions and julienned bell peppers on a wood cutting board.
  1. Prep the vegetables – Peel the squash, slice lengthwise, and scoop out the seeds (if necessary), then cut thin slices – about 1/8″ to 1/4″ at most. I did NOT find that my mandolin worked well on the somewhat spongy texture of the squash. Slice the onion and bell peppers.
  2. Make the coconut curry sauce – If you’re using the marinade from my snapper in banana leaves, you can skip this step! Otherwise, whisk the sauce ingredients together.
  3. Stir fry the vegetables – To a wok or large saute pan over high heat, add coconut or vegetable oil. When oil is hot, add opo squash. Stir fry 1 to 2 minutes, then add peppers, onion, garlic, and ginger. Stir-fry another 1 to 2 minutes.
  4. Finish the curried opo squash – Add coconut curry sauce (or remaining marinade), stir, and cover. Simmer just until vegetables are tender.
  5. Serve – Garnish with chopped cilantro, basil, or mint if desired. Serve over jasmine rice.

💭 Tips

As I mentioned earlier in the post, this Asian-inspired side dish pairs well with my Thai Fish in Banana Leaves. The vegetables should be completely cooked in about the same amount of time as the steamed fish!

Is Thai Curried Opo Squash vegetarian? NO. However, you can substitute tamari soy sauce for the fish sauce, and it is vegan/vegetarian. My photo shows it alongside jasmine rice, and Crispy Sesame Tofu.

🧂 Useful Stuff

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Green Curry Paste
OXO Zester
Minced Ginger
Thai Curried Opo Squash and Peppers in a black stoneware bowl with black spoon.

This dish is so simple. Even if you’re not marinating fish in curry, you can whisk the sauce up in under 5 minutes! Thai Curried Opo Squash and Peppers is delicious alongside chicken satay and grilled fish.

A favorite #meatlessmonday meal at Andersen casa pairs this dish with jasmine rice and a marinated and seared tofu slice! Keep in mind: To make this dish vegetarian, though, you need to substitute tamari soy sauce for the fish sauce. Of course you must have a scoop of rice to sop up the delicious sauce.

Have you tried (or even seen) opo squash? Inquiring minds want to know… If you like zucchini, yellow, patty pan squashes, I feel confident you’ll like opo squash!

Signature in red and green with chiles and limes. Healthyish Latin cuisine.

Thai Curried Opo Squash and Peppers Feature

Thai Curried Opo Squash and Peppers

This unusual squash is stir-fried with onions and bell peppers, then simmered with Thai curry and coconut milk. It is a perfect side to go with Thai Curried Snapper in Banana Leaves (or your favorite Asian-inspired protein) and Coconut Rice…
4.65 from 28 votes

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Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes
Course Main Dishes
Cuisine Thai
Servings 4 servings
Calories 151 kcal


  • 1-2 tablespoons refined coconut oil*
  • 2 small or 1 medium opo squash*
  • 1 or 2 bell peppers - I like to use different colors*
  • ½ onion - vertically sliced
  • 1 teaspoon garlic - minced
  • 2 teaspoons ginger - minced or grated fine

Sauce (if not using reserved marinade)

  • 1 cup lite coconut milk*
  • 1-2 tablespoons Thai green curry paste*
  • 1 tablespoon fish sauce*
  • zest of 1 lime and juice of 1/2 lime
  • 2 teaspoons brown sugar*
  • 1 teaspoon garlic - minced
  • 1 tablespoon fresh ginger - minced
  • fresh cilantro and/or basil to garnish
  • * See Notes


  • To a wok or large saute pan over high heat, add coconut or vegetable oil. When oil is hot, add opo squash. Stir-fry 1 to 2 minutes, then add peppers, onion, garlic, and ginger. Stir-fry another 1 to 2 minutes.
  • Add coconut curry sauce (or remaining marinade), stir, and cover. Simmer just until vegetables are tender.
  • Garnish with chopped cilantro and/or basil if desired.


Make sure to check the smoke point of your coconut oil if using! Refined coconut oil can handle high heat.
You may not be able to find opo squash. Substitute another summer squash variety, eggplant, sugar snap peas, etc. Be creative!
The mini sweet peppers shown in the photos are a perfect way to add lots of beautiful color to this dish! Use 6 to 8 of them.
Most of the time, I use lite coconut milk to cut fat and calories. The choice is yours.
Curry paste is hot! If you can’t handle very spicy food, you may wish to start with a teaspoon or two, and add as desired. Curry paste recipes and prepared curry pastes vary greatly in heat level.
I like to use brown sugar/splenda blend to cut calories. Always cut the quantity in half as it is sweeter!
To make this a vegetarian dish, substitute tamari or a good quality soy sauce for the fish sauce.


Calories: 151kcal | Carbohydrates: 22g | Protein: 2g | Fat: 10g

NOTE: Macronutrients are an approximation only using unbranded ingredients and Please do your own research with the products you’re using if you have a serious health issue or are following a specific diet.

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  1. Oh, my goodness this recipe is absolutely amazing! I thought I tried it over rice, but I ate it all up before I thought of the rice…😂😂😂
    DELISH 💜💜💜

    1. I’m so glad you loved it Vanessa! It’s one of my earliest recipes, and I’ve never even updated it. Maybe it deserves a new look? Thanks for stopping by, and providing feedback!

  2. My friend had an excess of Opa squash in her garden and brought a giant one to me. This recipe was outstanding, only used part of the squash at first. …The 2nd day I added more squash, some shrimp and a bit more of all sauce ingredients, some shrimp, and served over rice. My husband..who is not a “veggie guy” even had 2 helpings!

  3. My wife is a Filipina, so opo is no stranger to this house. But her way is typical of all Filipino food. I like to go outside the box, and this looks like a good place to land. I’ve got everything on hand, so I’ll whip up some version of this tonight to go with my beef satay and nasi impit. Thanks for the inspiration.

    1. Hi John! I’m a little slow getting back to you as we finally got to celebrate our 40th anniversary in the Carolinas with our kids (postponed due to the pandemic)! I only learned of opo squash when we moved to McAllen, TX., and we enjoy it in this preparation. I hope it worked out well! Thanks for taking time to comment. Tamara.

    1. Hi EG. I’m sorry that you are unhappy with this recipe. I am well aware that it is not vegetarian. I mention that fact in the body of the post, and in the notes in the recipe. I suggested tamari as a substitute. I included it in my “Vegetarian” category only because I explained that fish sauce is not vegetarian, but there is a decent (though very different substitution). Thanks for your comment.

    2. My goodness would people just quit with the snobbish correctness!! I’m like Man get a Frick’n life!! Go be a vegetarian, or a meat lover, who cares? Take a hike and compain about the rocky paths😨

      1. Thank you Bunny. It is particularly frustrating for me to get the snide comments when the post clearly spells out that fish sauce is not vegetarian. It’s a little disheartening at times. 🙁

    3. Tamara,

      A couple weeks ago I bought this crazy green Opo squash and today while hiking suddenly remembered I wanted to cook it. I figured when I bought it to try, that somebody somewhere online would have a great recipe for it.

      Thank you for being that person.

      Thanks for your creativity.
      I’m sorry some people have to come onto your site and complain.

      Let me just say thank you for what you do. I’m grateful.

      It is now done simmering and I can’t wait to try it!

      1. I hope you were pleased with the results Graciela! I try to be diplomatic with the negative comments. Often they come when readers are in too much of a hurry to READ the recipe. LOL.

        I’m envious you were out hiking. That’s my “happy place.” I just got back from hiking (trekking) in Peru! Thanks for stopping by and leaving a supportive comment!

  4. Oh now I’ve never seen this squash before – it’s pretty coloured and quite cute looking! Love how easy this curry recipe is. And I grew, Thai curry paste can be ferociously hot! I make my own though so that would be a good way to fan the flames lol. Looks lovely 🙂

    1. I love making my own curry paste as well! I am now living in an area where I can easily get the ingredients 🙂 You’ll have to be on the lookout for some pretty opo squash!

  5. This looks delicious! I grew up not too fond of squash but I love it now, however, I’ve never made it myself. May have to give it a try.

  6. Yum! I always love trying out new Asian dishes. I especially love your warning that “curry paste is hot!” I didn’t realize its power my first time cooking with it, so the only way I could eat my curry was by taking a gulp of water with each bite!

  7. Love this recipe so warming and delicious!! Just pinned and stumbled! I think we have this type of squash here in our markets in HK but I do not know what they call it. I really love the new look of your blog since I last visited. Awesome!

    1. Thanks so much Bobby! After 2 years, I’m still “hanging in there” trying to keep pressing on with my blog… Our move (and no house and kitchen for 7 weeks) last summer nearly did me in. I’ll bet you have seen opo squash in Hong Kong as I know it is far more common in Asian markets. You’ll have to let me know for sure 🙂