I suppose this could be considered a classic Filipino way of cooking; sauteed with the Pinoy version of the mirepoix, the holy trilogy in Filipino cuisine, garlic, onion and tomatoes. This method of cooking is ideal for me because it is also fast cooking and I get the meat and vegetables all in one dish. Sayote or chayote squash was such a common vegetable in Baguio where I grew up that we took it for granted. Often times, we can just go to the backyard and find it growing wild on the back fence. Now, whenever I get a taste for it, I’ve had to cough up as much as $1.50 each. Outrageous, but well worth it for my sould food.
This is such a simple dish, but I thought it may also be a fitting entry to Lasang Pinoy 11. Sayote always reminds me of the carefree days of my childhood in Baguio. Back then, we were allowed to roam the city on our own and our parents had nothing to worry about. No worries of abductions or molestations, just a simple life where almost everyone you met knew who you were, or at least in our case, who you belonged to. My parents had an apartment almost in the center of town, on Abanao Street just below City Hall. From our house we can walk Burnham Park, Rizal Park, or to the wet market on Kiangan Road. We had friends scattered all over the city too, and we were always allowed to go visit them on our own, which really was never ‘on our own’ as the whole city it seemed had it’s eyes on us at all times. A great joke between my sisters and I was how, when we get mad and try to run away, we never could because someone would always inevitably see us and send us home or tell the house help where to find us so that we are always back home by the time our parents came home. One of our favorite destinations to ‘run away’ to is our grandfather’s place in Camdas. They always had great merienda waiting 😉 But also, before they call the taxi to send us back home, they pack a bagfull of sayote picked from the backyard where they grow wild along the rock wall.
Funny how food elicits such memories from us, even something as lowly as the sayote squash. Here is my very simple and quick version of this classic dish, which also goes perfectly well with the humid summers we now have here in the South. It’s a sure ways to get out of the kitchen fast.
1 lb. Pork loin, cut into small strips
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 small onion, sliced thin
3 roma tomatoes, chopped
1 teaspoon of ginger or about 1/2 inch of the root, sliced into strips
3 chayote squash
Patis (fish sauce), to taste
Heat pan to medium heat and saute’ the pork strips in a tablespoon of oil until edges start to brown. Add garlic and saute until it becomes fragrant, 1-2 minutes then add the onions and tomatoes. Cook for a few more minutes until the onions are translucent and the tomatoes have softened. Add the chayote squash, stirfry for a minute or two then add about 1/2 cup of water. Season with patis or salt and pepper, cover and simmer until the squash is tender. Adjust seasonings and serve over steamed rice.