Kalabasa, also known as chayote or mirliton, is an eggplant-shaped vegetable native to South America.
What Are The Ingredients In A Kalabasa Recipe?
The most common types of kalabasa available for purchase at grocery stores have been bred specifically to be eaten raw.
But they can easily be cooked too if desired.
You can find many different varieties of kalabasas sold around the world.
These include white kalabasa, yellow kalabasa, green kalabasa, purple kalabasa, red kalabasa, and even orange kalabasa!
The color of your kalabasa will affect how it tastes when cooked.
In a traditional Filipino recipe, you’ll use fresh kalabasa (or sometimes frozen) along with other vegetables like onions, garlic, tomatoes, carrots, cabbage, and celery.
Some recipes may call for dried fish sauce, soy sauce, shrimp paste, vinegar, sugar, salt, pepper, and water.
You should always consult a trusted source regarding any ingredient substitutions you plan on making.
Once all of these ingredients are combined together, you’re ready to cook the kalabasa.
Here are some general steps you can follow.
- Wash the kalabasa thoroughly by peeling off the outer layer. If this isn’t possible, try soaking them in cold water for about 30 minutes before cutting into pieces. This will help soften the skin.
- Cut each piece into bite-sized cubes. Depending on what kind of kalabasa you’ve purchased, there might be smaller pieces inside those cubes. You want to get rid of these so that you end up having more surface area than volume when cooking.
- Put the cubed kalabasa in a bowl or pot. Add enough water to cover the bottom of the container, then add the rest of the ingredients listed above. Stir everything until well combined.
- Bring the mixture to a boil over medium heat. Cook the kalabasa over medium heat for 10 minutes. Make sure not to overcook it because it will become mushy and lose its texture.
- Remove from heat and allow the kalabasa to cool completely. When it has cooled down, transfer the contents of the pan to a serving plate.
How Do You Make A Kalabasa Dish?
The most common way to prepare a kalabasa dish is by sautéing it with garlic, onion, tomatoes, and chicken stock.
Once cooked, the kalabasa can be served alone or added into your favorite soup, stew, or sauce.
- Cut off both ends of the fruit and remove the skin (you can peel this if you prefer).
- Slice each endocarp lengthwise into three quarters, then cut each quarter crosswise into thin slices.
- Add oil and onions to a pan over medium heat and cook until lightly browned. Add chopped garlic and stir for one minute before adding sliced kalabasa. Cook until soft, about 5 minutes per side.
- Pour out excess fat from pan and add tomato paste, paprika, soy sauce, bay leaf, salt, black pepper, and chicken broth. Bring mixture to a boil and reduce heat to low. Simmer covered for 15 minutes.
- Remove bay leaf, season with additional salt and pepper to taste, and serve!
What Is The History Of Kalabasa Recipes?
The word “chayote” comes from the Spanish word caucho, which means rubber.
The fruit was first brought to Europe by Portuguese explorers who were looking for new sources of food during their travels through South America.
They called it manioc de cauco (manioc with a hard skin).
This gave rise to another name for the plant – kalabasa.
In the Philippines, this delicacy has been around since the 19th century.
However, its popularity grew after World War II when Filipinos began making use of surplus supplies of canned goods from American soldiers stationed there.
Today, it is one of the most common vegetables eaten by many Filipinos.
As time went on, more people became familiar with kalabasa and discovered how delicious this tasty vegetable can be.
In fact, they started to call it “the poor man’s potato.” Because of this, it gained recognition among other veggies because of its affordability and versatility.
Since then, different types of kalabassa have developed over the years.
Some of these include the large green ones, and others are smaller and yellowish in color.
There are even varieties of kalabassas that resemble potatoes!
Most Filipinos prepare fresh kalabassa using either steaming or boiling methods.
You will find them cooked in both savory and sweet sauces like Sinigang and Adobong Kalabasa.
These recipes are usually served alongside rice and meat.
What Are Some Popular Kalabasa Recipes?
There are many different types of kalabasas available on grocery store shelves today.
Some examples include:
- Calabaza Blanca (White Calabasa)
- Cucurbita moschata
The most common varieties found at your local market tend to be white calabassas, although you may find other colors like yellow, green, purple, red, brown, black, and orange too.
If you’re looking for the best way to prepare this versatile fruit, check out our guide on how to cook with kalabasa here!
Dishes using calabasa
Some of the more famous traditional Filipino food items made from this vegetable include:
- Adobado (Spicy Stewed Pork Leg)
- Sinigang (Clear Soup)
- Kare Kare (Pickled Vegetables)
- Tinola (Fried Fish Roe)
- Lechon Kawali (Chicken Wings Wrapped in Banana Leaves)
- Bagoong Jellied Chicken Tenderloins
- Sisig (Grilled Sizzling Beef Skewers)
How Can I Make A Kalabasa Recipe Healthier?
The key to making any healthy meal is to use fresh ingredients.
This includes vegetables like the kalabasa, which have more nutrients than their canned counterparts.
If you want to go with the canned option, be sure to look at labels to find one without additives.
If you’re going to cook it yourself, there are several ways to prepare this vegetable.
You could sauté it, fry it, steam it, bake it, or even microwave it.
For example, if you choose to boil your kalabasa, you will need 6 cups of water, 1/4 cup of salt, and 2 tablespoons of oil.
In addition, you may add other seasonings such as garlic, onion, and tomato paste depending on what kind of flavor you prefer.
When cooking, avoid using too much salt because it reduces the nutritional value of the food.
Instead, try adding herbs such as parsley, cilantro, basil, oregano, thyme, bay leaves, and rosemary.
Once cooked, drain off excess liquid before serving so that the vegetables don’t lose all of their nutrients.
What Are Some Tips For Making A Great Kalabasa Dish?
A kalabasa is a kind of squash that’s commonly used in Philippine cuisine.
This versatile vegetable can be eaten raw or cooked.
You can use it whole or cut into pieces depending on the recipes you want to prepare.
The kalabasa has many health benefits including being rich in vitamins C and B6, potassium, calcium, iron, fiber, folic acid, and antioxidants.
Here are some tips on how to make a good kalabasa recipe.
If you have any questions about this article, leave them in the comments section below!
You might find yourself wondering if there are ways to improve your cooking skills without spending tons of money or time learning new techniques.
When you take a look at our list of quick and easy meal ideas, you’ll see that most of these recipes involve ingredients you already have in your kitchen.
If you don’t feel like going out to buy all those ingredients, consider trying one of these simple recipes instead.
They’re perfect for busy people who need something tasty and healthy to eat quickly.
1. Kalabasa Adobong Manok (Chicken Stewed with Kalabasa)
This chicken stewed with kalabasa will definitely satisfy even the pickiest meat lover.
The tender chunks of chicken are mixed with vegetables, onions, garlic, tomato sauce, and other spices.
- 5 cups chicken stock
- 1 cup diced tomatoes
- ½ cup chopped onion
- ¼ cup minced garlic
- 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 4 boneless skinless chicken thighs
- 1 medium size fresh kalabasa
- Salt to taste
- Parsley for garnish
- Cooking Instructions
- In large pot, heat oil over high heat until hot. Add chicken, season with salt, and cook until browned on both sides.
- Add 2 ½ cups water and bring to boil then reduce heat to simmer.
- Add 1 cup of chicken stock and return to low heat while stirring occasionally.
- When mixture starts boiling again, add half of the remaining stock and continue to stir frequently until mixture thickens slightly.
- After another 5 minutes, add rest of stock, kalabasa, parsley, and green onions.
- Serve immediately.
2. Crispy Fried Chicken with Ketchup and Kalabasa
Fried chicken is usually made from white meat.
However, dark meat chicken is more flavorful and contains higher levels of fat.
To balance the flavor and texture of fried chicken, you should serve it with creamy sauces like ketchup.
For this crispy fried chicken recipe, you only need four basic ingredients – chicken, eggs, flour, and milk.
In addition to being delicious, this dish is also very nutritious because it includes protein, vitamin D, riboflavin, niacin, thiamine, folate, pantothenic acid, minerals, zinc, copper, manganese, selenium, phosphorus, magnesium, and potassium.
- 1 pound skinless chicken breast
- ⅓ cup all purpose flour
- 2 egg yolks
- 1/3 cup milk
- 1 teaspoon paprika powder
- ¾ teaspoons kosher salt
- Freshly cracked black peppercorns to taste
- Vegetable oil for frying
- Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper to taste
- Garlic powder to taste
- Crispy fried chicken recipe instructions
- Dip each piece of chicken first in flour, then dip in beaten egg mixture, and finally roll in breadcrumbs.
- Heat 3 inches of oil in deep fryer or Dutch oven to 350 degrees F.
- Place coated chicken in heated oil and fry until golden brown and fully cooked through, approximately 8-10 minutes per side.
- Remove chicken and place on paper towels to absorb excess oil.
- Sprinkle with salt and pepper and serve with spicy sweet ketchup.
3. Creamy Avocado Dip with Chunky Vegetables and Kalabasa
Avocados are rich in nutrients and fats which makes them ideal for dips.
For this avocado dip recipe, you’ll only need two main ingredients – avocados and cream cheese.
But just eating this appetizer alone won’t give you enough nutrition.
To make sure you get your daily recommended dose of vitamin E, try adding spinach, mushrooms, bell peppers, broccoli, carrots, cauliflower, and zucchini.
These veggies are also rich in Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Calcium, Iron, Magnesium, Potassium, Phosphorus, Riboflavin, Thiamine, Niacin, Pantothenic Acid, Vitamins B12 and B6, Copper, Manganese, Selenium, Zinc, and Folate.
- ⅔ cup mayonnaise
- 1 ripe avocado peeled and pitted
- 8 ounces cream cheese softened at room temperature
- ½ cup sour cream
- 1 teaspoon lemon juice
- Dash cayenne pepper
- 1 small head romaine lettuce shredded
- 1 red bell pepper sliced thinly crosswise
- 1 yellow squash sliced lengthwise
- 1 small cucumber sliced thinly crosswise
- ½ small jalapeño chili seeded and finely chopped
- 1 bunch scallions, sliced thin
- ½ small white onion sliced thin
- ½ cup cherry tomatoes halved
- Small handful fresh basil leaves torn
- Kalabasa recipe instructions
- Mix together the mayonnaise and sour cream until well combined and set aside.
- Combine the avocado, cream cheese, lemon juice, and dash of cayenne pepper in a food processor and blend until smooth.
- Toss the salad greens with dressing and divide among 4 serving plates.
- Top each plate with equal amounts of the avocado dip and assorted vegetables.
- Drizzle additional dressing over top.
4. Grilled Shrimp Tacos With Salsa Verde and Tostones
Grilling shrimp tacos is a fun way to enjoy this classic Mexican snack.
While grilling is not necessary to make this taco recipe, it does enhance the flavors of the filling.
Shrimp tacos contain lean proteins like fish and shellfish.
The grilled flavor adds a nice crunch to the soft taco shells and gives the filling extra kick.
Other than seafood, you could substitute beef, chicken, pork, rabbit, duck, and goose.
- 16 large shrimp, shelled and deveined
- 1 lime, juiced
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon ground coriander seed
- 1 teaspoon smoked Spanish paprika
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- 1 teaspoon crushed bay leaf
- Tortilla chips
- Salsa verde recipe instructions
How Do I Know When My Kalabasa Dish Is Done?
There’s no set cooking time for your kalabasa dish since the amount you use will determine how long it takes to cook.
Some people like their kalabasa cooked until soft while others prefer them more firm.
You should always taste your kalabasa dish before serving so you get the right texture.
If your kalabasa dish has too much liquid, drain off any excess water by placing the kalabasa on a paper towel then patting dry.
The moisture from the vegetables will help keep your kalabasa moist during reheating.
You might have noticed that most recipes call for steaming or boiling but there are other ways to prepare this deliciously spiced vegetable.
One way is roasting which gives the kalabasa a smoky flavor.
Another method is grilling which adds to its crispness.
If you’re looking for another alternative to steaming or boiling, try using a pressure cooker instead.
Pressure cooking allows food to be cooked at high temperatures resulting in tender, flavorful results.
To learn more about pressure cooking, check out our guide here.
Another option for preparing kalabasa is frying.
This technique uses oil heated over medium heat.
Kalabasa fries well because of its thin skin.
When cooking fried kalabasa, make sure to turn down the temperature once the oil starts bubbling.
Once the bubbles start popping rapidly, remove the kalabasa from the pan immediately to prevent burning.
To see what else you can serve with kalabasa, read on!
What Can I Do With Leftover Kalabasa?
You can use the fleshy part of the kalabasa for anything from salads to soups.
The skin on the outside of your kalabasa can be peeled off easily and discarded.
If you’re using it whole, just cut off the top so that the inside will cook faster while still keeping its shape intact.
- Serve the kalabasa as a side dish.
- Make a soup out of it by adding chicken stock, water, tomatoes, onions, garlic, bay leaves, and other spices.
- If you want to add more flavor to your kalabasa, marinate it in a mixture of soy sauce, vinegar, sugar, and crushed red pepper flakes before grilling it until charred.
- Use the hard outer shell of the kalabasa to make a cracker snack called pakwan (or paqui). Just place all ingredients except for the coconut milk into a blender and blend them until they get a crumbly texture. Add coconut milk last, then pulse everything together again until mixed well.
- Bake slices of the kalabasa if you like sweet flavors.
- Add ground beef and eggs to the mix and form meatballs. Bake these at 400 F degrees for about 20 minutes.
- Mix ground pork with chopped onion, green bell peppers, and cabbage and then stuff this mixture into the hollowed out kalabasa.
- Fill the hollowed-out kalabasa with shredded cooked chicken, shrimp, or any other kind of seafood.
- Heat up oil in a pan over medium heat, add the sliced kalabasa, and sear both sides until golden brown. Remove the kalabasa from the pan once they’ve turned light brown, and put them onto paper towels to absorb excess oil.
What Are Some Common Mistakes People Make When Making Kalabasa Dishes?
If you’re new to cooking with kalabasa, it may be difficult for you to know what exactly to look out for when purchasing one.
But if you’ve ever made a dish using this versatile fruit, then you should have no problem identifying the most common errors that novice cooks commit while preparing them.
1. Choosing the wrong size
This mistake is probably the most obvious.
Kalabasa has many varieties, but they all come in different sizes and shapes.
When purchasing your kalabasa, check its length and width before placing your order.
If you buy a small kalabasa, chances are you will end up throwing away half of it because you will not be able to fit it into your pan without cutting off too much of its flesh.
You can always use smaller pieces of the kalabasa for garnishing instead of larger ones.
However, that won’t solve the problem of wasting food.
2. Not knowing how to cut it properly
When cutting a kalabasa, remember that you need to remove just enough skin from around the edges so that the pulp inside of it doesn’t burst out during boiling.
The more you cut, the longer the whole process takes.
Also, don’t go overboard on removing too much of the outer layer – it can take quite a bit of time to cook through.
It is best to start by slicing the kalabasa vertically along its long axis.
Then, slice horizontally across each vertical section until you reach the middle.
Finally, slice diagonally across both horizontal sections to finish cutting it in halves.
One thing about kalabasa is that it tends to get mushy after being boiled for a very long time.
This happens because the starch contained within the kalabasa breaks down over time.
So, try not to overcook it at first.
You can test whether it is cooked well enough by inserting a thin knife blade between two parts of the kalabasa.
If there’s any resistance, then you still have a little way to go.
After testing whether it is done, place it directly into water to cool completely.
Remove the skin and discard it.
4. Using bad ingredients
Kalabasa contains a lot of naturally occurring sugars which makes it taste sweet.
In addition, it is high in fiber, so it helps regulate blood sugar levels.
That said, these natural properties mean that kalabasa isn’t suitable for everyone.
Some people might find it sweeter than other fruits like bananas or mangoes.
Also, since kalabasa is high in fat content, it shouldn’t be eaten regularly.
Instead, choose it as a side dish once every three months or so.
5. Failing to clean properly
Another reason why people have trouble getting their kalabasa prepared correctly is due to poor hygiene.
Most of us aren’t careful about cleaning our kitchen surfaces and utensils.
As a result, we tend to contaminate them with bacteria and mold spores.
After washing the vegetables thoroughly, let them dry completely before storing them.
6. Adding too much salt
In general, adding too much salt is a surefire way to ruin a good dish.
To avoid ruining a perfectly good meal, stick to only adding salt to the soup when serving it.
Otherwise, add it towards the end of cooking time.
7. Making the wrong kind of stew
As mentioned above, kalabasa has several uses.
For example, it can be added to stews and soups as a thickener.
If you want to prepare a traditional Sinagbang (a fish stew), however, you will need to boil it separately from the rest of the soup.
The same goes for Adobong Gulaman (an aromatic pork stew).
Since garlic is a key ingredient here, you will need to boil it separately from the rest of the broth.
The first step for all recipes involving kalabasa involves peeling the skin off of the fruit.
This process can be tricky at times because it will take several minutes to remove every bit of skin from your kalabasa.
If you don’t have time to do this task before cooking, simply slice the top half of your kalabasa open like a book, lay flat on a cutting board, then place a heavy object (like a cast iron skillet) on top of the fleshy part of the kalabasa so that its weight presses down hard onto the bottom half of the kalabasa.
This should allow you to peel the lower half of the kalabasa without removing too much of the skin on the upper side.
Once peeled, cut the kalabasa into bite-size pieces.
You can use either whole or halved kalabasas in any dish.
The only thing you need to watch out for if using whole ones is that they may get very watery after being cooked.
A good way around this problem is by slicing them lengthwise into quarters or halves, which helps reduce their moisture content while keeping the texture intact.
If you want something more substantial than plain steamed kalabasa, try these 10 ways to cook with kalabasa!
- 1 1/2 lbs. squash cubed
- 18 pieces string beans
- 1 piece Knorr Pork cube
- 3 ounces pork sliced pieces
- 4 cups coconut milk
- 1 piece onion chopped
- 2 thumbs ginger sliced
- 5 cloves garlic crushed
- ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1 tablespoon cooking oil
- Fish sauce to taste
- Heat oil in a pan. Add pork. Cook until brown and crispy.
- Sauté garlic, onion, and ginger.
- Once the onion softens, pour the coconut milk into the pan. Stir. Cover the pan and let the liquid boil. Once boiling, adjust the heat to medium and continue boiling for 5 minutes.
- Add Knorr Pork Cube and squash. Continue cooking for 5 minutes.
- Add string beans. Cook for 5 to 8 minutes.
- Season with ground black pepper and fish sauce as needed.
- Transfer to a serving plate. Serve with warm rice.