Folks in Hawaii love their pork and they often grow their own squash in backyards, from Kalihi to Kahala, which is one of the reasons pork squash is such a favorite dish in Hawaii
½ pound pork, sliced
1 whole butternut squash, skinned, seeded and sliced
1 cup chicken broth
1 Tbsp. canola oil
3 Tbsp. mirin
2 tsp. shoyu sauce
1 onion, diced or sliced
1 Tbsp. pressed garlic
2 inches of ginger root, sliced
1 Tbsp. fish sauce
1 12-ounce package of firm tofu, cubed
Delicious pork squash takes less than 30 minutes to prep and cook. Brown the pork in canola oil for about five minutes on medium heat. Add the remaining ingredients, including the sliced squash and chicken broth. Simmer for 15 minutes or till the squash is done.
Serve the pork squash dish on white or brown rice.
If you have the occasion to drive around the Kalihi area, you will often see several varieties of squash vines growing in the front yards of mostly Filipino families. This is a very popular item in the area, often cooked with pork or chicken. Pork squash can even be made with equal portions of sliced chicken and pork. The pork is the dominating flavor when the two are combined. Green papaya can be added or substituted for the melon, which supermarkets often have on sale starting in the fall. There are many varieties of squash, including butternut squash, which is what we found on sale and truly enjoyed. There are also endless varieties on this dish, which can be spiced up with sliced jalapenos or made “greener” with fresh spinach leaves, bok choy and sliced zucchini. We also like a splash of rice vinegar and a few kaffir lime leaves for garnish and an added zing.
When the original Polynesian voyagers came to the Hawaiian Islands, they brought coconuts, banana, sugar cane, taro and breadfruit to plant when they arrived. Apparently, squash was one of the many plants that were later introduced to Hawaii by outsiders, including a Spaniard who landed on these shores in the early 1800s. In Don Francisco de Paula Marin, biographer Ross H. Gast tells the fascinating story of Marin—known to Hawaiians as Manini—who had an abiding interest in planting food crops in this Island paradise. He planted cotton in Kalihi Valley, grapes near Honolulu Harbor, edible cactus as a forage crop and numerous fruit trees in Pauoa Valley, near Punchbowl Crater. Those fruit trees included orange, lime, avocado, mangoes, Chinese plums and Tahitian banana. Marin may have experimented with squash, but it was the Japanese and Filipino immigrants who made kabocha and other squash varieties popular offerings on dining tables across the Islands.
Photo by Darrell Ishii