Ginisang Upo at Hipon is the ultimate vegetable side dish! Made of bottle gourd and shrimp, it’s nutritious as it is delicious. Perfect with steamed rice and grilled meat or fried fish.
Bottle gourd, or what we locally know as upo, has to be the easiest Asian vegetable to prepare. Its delicate flesh requires only a few minutes to cook, and its mild taste also works well with various additions.
It’s one of my favorite ingredients to cook with, and I have many delicious ways to enjoy it, such as ginisa with sardines or pork, added to pancit bihon or sotanghon soup, and cooked tinola-style with chicken.
- Upo– Choose young bottle gourd or calabash. As the vegetable matures, the edible seeds lose some tenderness, and the center flesh becomes too spongy and mushy when cooked.
- Shrimp– I prefer shell-on shrimp and use the heads to boost flavor. If using already-peeled shrimp, add shrimp bouillon.
- Tomatoes– ripe, juicy Roma or plum tomatoes are best for this recipe
- Onions and garlic– standard ingredients in ginisa
- Fish sauce– adds umami flavor
- Salt and pepper– season with salt to taste and more liberally with freshly ground pepper
How to prepare upo
- Wash under cold running water and cut off the stem end with a knife.
- Using a vegetable peeler, peel the skin by running down the gourd lengthwise.
- With a knife, cut the peeled upo lengthwise.
- If the interior is “too spongy” and has mature seeds, remove the spongy flesh using a spoon and discard.
- Slice the halves again lengthwise, then slice into 1/2 inch thickness. Use in the recipe as directed.
- Cut the gourd into uniform size to ensure even cooking.
- For the best texture, do not cover during cooking as the upo will expel a lot of liquid. Take off from the heat while still tender-crisp as it will continue to cook in the residual heat.
How to serve and store
- I like to enjoy this upo and shrimp stir-fry on its own when I want something light yet filling meal, but I love it just as much paired with steamed rice and with fried fish. Delicious!
- Leftovers will keep in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Unfortunately, expect changes in texture as the shrimp becomes rubbery and the upo mushy when reheated for too long.
- 1/2 pound medium shrimp, head on
- 3/4 cup water
- 2 medium upo
- 1 tablespoon oil
- 1 onion, peeled and sliced thinly
- 2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
- 2 medium tomatoes, chopped
- 1 tablespoon fish sauce
- salt and pepper to taste
Cut and discard stem and lower end of upo. Using a peeler or a paring knife, peel skin. Cut the gourd lengthwise.
If the interior is “too spongy” and has mature seeds, remove spongy flesh using a spoon and discard. Slice halves again lengthwise into halves and then slice into 1/2 inch thickness.
In a wide pan over medium heat, heat oil. Add onions and garlic and cook, stirring regularly, until softened.
Add tomatoes and continue to cook, mashing regularly with the back of a spoon, until softened.
Add fish sauce and cook for about 1 to 2 minutes.
Add shrimp and continue to cook just until color changes to pink.
Add upo and stir gently to combine.
Add the reserved liquid and bring to a boil.
Continue to cook, uncovered, for about 5 to 6 minutes or until upo is tender yet crisp and shrimp are cooked.
Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve hot.