Fall Special: Kabocha Bowl Stir Fry Rice Noodle
Edible bowls are actually a pretty common practice in Asian cooking. Unlike hearty clam chowder bread bowls, we have the dong gua zhong （冬瓜盅） - a light summer broth studded with dried shrimp and scallops. For special occasions, the luxurious fo tiao quiang (佛跳牆）with shark's fin and abalone is particularly popular. Desserts for the cooler weather often feature sweet soups braised in coconut shells, papaya or even pear!
Last week was Chinese mid-autumn festival and what's better to celebrate fall than having squash on the dinner table? I've been obsessed with putting things inside squashes lately, and kabocha, with its edible skin is definitely on the top of my list. This Japanese squash has a dark green, mottled skin and a sweet bright orange flesh. They're sweeter than your usual pumpkin and usually available in smaller sizes, making them perfect for individual servings. All it takes is a few zap in the microwave. If you're not into that, steaming also works.
This fall special is modified from a classic Taiwanese style noodle. Adding some mung bean cellophane noodles to rice noodles gives it a better chew, which complements the soft kabocha bits. An extra kick of white pepper is highly recommended to temper the sweetness of the squash. This kabocha bowl is quite a spectacle and is great for a fall centerpiece dish. You're going to need an extra kabocha for the noodles, since the skin won't be able to support itself once the flesh is scooped out.
Kabocha Bowl Stir Fry Rice Noodle with Shiitake and Pork Belly
Serves 6-8 as a main.
Pork belly is great for occasions, but feel free to replace it with pork tenderloin or even shrimps for a lighter, everyday fare.
For the seasoning:
2 tablespoons oyster sauce
1 tablespoon rice wine
1 teaspoon five spice powder
2 teaspoons white pepper
3 tablespoons water
1 tablespoon fried shallots
sesame oil, chopped cilantro leaves, fried shallots
For the noodle:
225g rice noodle
80g glass noodle, I love
3 shallots, finely diced
300g pork belly
10 dried shiitake mushroom
handful dried shrimps
cabbage, thin sliced
⅓ - ½ carrot, thin sticks
handful of cilantro
- Soak the noodles in warm water for 8-10 minutes, until loosened. Drain and set aside.
- Cook the kabocha. In a large bowl, place the kabocha and fill the bottom with an inch of water and microwave, covered, until soft. Alternatively, steam for 10-15 minutes. Allow to rest until it is cool enough to handle, and cut the top off, reserving it for presentation. Using a large spoon, scoop out all the seeds and pulp. Repeat with the second kabocha, and reserve 350g of flesh for the noodles. Slightly mash it with a fork and set aside.
- Soak shiitake mushrooms and dried shrimp in water. When fully softened, squeeze out the water, thinly slice mushrooms and roughly chop dried shrimps. Reserve the soaking liquid.
- Cut pork belly into bite sized pieces and set aside. Roughly chop the cilantro stems, reserving the leaves for garnishing.
- Mix together all the seasoning ingredients in a small bowl.
- In a deep sauté pan, heat a couple tablespoons of oil at medium-high heat. Fry shallots until fragrant, then add the pork belly and fry until the exterior browns. Add the mushroom and dried shrimp, and add the sauce all at once.
- Once the sauce hits the pan, it should sizzle. Working quickly, add the cabbage and carrot and stir. Add the noodles, mashed kabocha and a handful of fried shallots. Toss with a pair of tongs to combine, adding a bit of the reserved soaking liquid if needed.
- Continue to stir fry until all the liquid is absorbed. Transfer noodles to the kabocha bowl, drizzle with sesame oil and sprinkle generously with cilantro and fried shallots. Place the reserved kabocha lid on and serve!