Wednesday, 30 September 2015

Really gourd soup (Tinola Manok with Opo)

By Evan Duxbury

Another day volunteering at the Green Zebra means another chance to pick up some obscure produce; this week it’s Opo squash aka. lauki squash aka. calabash aka. the bottle gourd.


It’s big, green and it’s about the length of my forearm. I’d never seen one before but apparently this grows locally, again provided by Jas at the “God’s little Acre farm” in Surrey. Apparently this is one of the earliest cultivated vegetables. It was grown, however, less for eating and more because it could be dried and used as a water bottle, hence one of its many names.

Upon searching for what one could possibly do with this, I first searched by the name “lauki” which turned up countless Indian recipes. All of which looked delicious and not too difficult, but they called for a lot of obscure Indian ingredients: wadis, chana dal, adrak and asafoetida to name a few that I do not typically carry in my larder.

A quick search for Opo squash turned up some Filipino recipes, one of which was for tinola manok. Thankfully, the ingredient list was plain enough that I could look forward to dinner in about an hour.

Peeled Opo Squash

Although the recipe called for the squash to be peeled, I feel like it could have been left on. The peel wasn’t unlike a zucchini and came off quite easily.

Sliced Opo Squash

Inside, it looks a lot like a zucchini as well, though much whiter and slightly chewier.

Sliced again Opo Squash 

Once sliced, we’re ready to get to work on the rest of the soup. In truth, this recipe was very straight forward. I elected to cut the Opo and the chicken into smaller pieces than the recipe called for so that the consumer wouldn’t have to work so hard or make such a mess to enjoy the meal. I grabbed some Thai chillies and added 10 to the broth to add a little bit of a kick. After sampling one and nearly having my face melt off. I scooped out five of them. The final product wasn’t too spicy, so 10 chillies probably would have been fine (unless you diced them, which would turn your soup into molten lava).

Tinola Manok

Obligatory Nutritional Conclusion

Opo squash provide very little energy to consumers. Delivering a minuscule 14 cals per 100g, it is often recommended by dietitians for people in weight loss programs.
In fact, Opo squash seem to provide very little of everything. Here’s how it stacks up when compared to a butternut squash (per 100 grams):

Opo Butternut
Carbohydrates (g) 3.3 11.7
Protein (g) 0.6 1.0
Fiber (g) 0.5 2.0
Calories 14 45
Fat (g) 0.02 0.10

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