Ginataang kalabasa with dating
Fresh coconut is still hard to come by, and a bit hit or miss when I find one at the market here in Denver.
Thankfully, canned coconut milk is more readily available.
If you can’t find malunggay you can use sweet potato leaves or, failing that, spinach.
Between the munggo, malunggay, and the squash, this is not only deliciously comforting, but highly nutritious as well.
Set pot on medium heat, cover, and cook until beans are soft.
This can take anywhere from 30 minutes – 1 hour (depending on how old your beans are). At this point the level of liquid should be just at the same level as the beans.
In our house, we use coconut milk more often with spicy curries and soups and only occasionally in drinks like coquito and sweets like Vietnamese rice pudding (che dau trang).
Add a few swirls of canola oil and, when hot, add the chopped onion and garlic.
Add the cooked munggo and its liquid, the coconut milk, and the squash. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the squash is softened. The hibe and the fish sauce give it a rounded savory depth that salt would not be able to replicate.
Add the malunggay leaves and cook for about 15 minutes more. If you can’t find hibe where you are, just adjust the seasoning with a bit more fish sauce.
Which, actually, has its own special magic…at least to me.
Rays of light suddenly bursting into being like so many bright yellow arms reaching around towers of concrete, all at once being reflected and fractured and reflected again, like a beam going through a thousand prisms, against the steel and glass of the stalwart urban sentinels I call my neighbors. Even if, despite all my best efforts and intentions, I am still not naturally a morning person.