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 favorite Asian-style main dish, and ready so quickly!
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
Have you ever heard of opo squash? I certainly had not! 😯 However, I am a curious cook, and when I saw it at my local market, I knew I had to try it. 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.
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. As it matures, the seeds become woody and the skin becomes tough. You will want to peel the squash, slice lengthwise, and scoop out the fiber and seeds inside. 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. 🙂
Opo squash, with its mild flavor and low calorie count, is a healthy and versatile vegetable. The Chinese stuff and then steam or bake them. They can be cubed and added to stew and sliced for a stir-fry. They pair well with bell peppers as in my Thai Curried Opo Squash and Peppers. If you are unable to find opo squash, substitute zucchini, yellow squash, chayote, summer squash, etc.
This dish pairs well with my Thai Curried Snapper in Banana Leaves for the simple reason that it utilizes the marinade left from the fish. 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. Stir-fry the vegetables in very hot coconut or vegetable oil, add the sauce/marinade, give it all a good stir, then cover until the vegetables are tender. The vegetables should be completely cooked in about the same amount of time as the steamed fish!
This dish is so simple. Even if you’re not marinating fish in curry, you can whisk the sauce up in under 5 minutes! It would be delicious alongside chicken satay, grilled fish, even grilled tempeh for a vegetarian option. 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 coconut rice to sop up the delicious sauce. Have you tried (or even seen) opo squash? Inquiring minds want to know…
Thai Curried Opo Squash and Peppers
- 1-2 tablespoons refined coconut oil (see notes)
- 2 small or 1 medium opo squash (see notes)
- 2 bell peppers (I like to use different colors)
- 1/2 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 (see notes)
- 1-2 tablespoons Thai green curry paste (see notes)
- 1 tablespoon fish sauce (see notes)
- zest of 1 lime and juice of 1/2 lime
- 2 teaspoons brown sugar (see notes)
- 1 teaspoon garlic minced
- 1 tablespoon fresh ginger minced
- fresh cilantro and/or basil to garnish
- 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. "Vegetarian" fish sauce isn't very good, and I wouldn't recommend it.
Macronutrients (approximation from MyFitnessPal.com): 151 calories; 2 g protein; 22 g carbohydrates; 10 g fats.