Squash and Green Beans in Coconut Milk (Kalabasa at Sitaw sa Gata)

ivoryhut Squash and Green Beans in Coconut Milk

Lately I’ve been on a Filipino food kick. Perhaps it’s because I’d grown weary of this overstaying winter (though today was beautiful and warm). Or perhaps because some of the best comfort food is the food you grew up eating. The food of my home makes me think of my grandmother, the sound of a tropical breeze rustling coconut leaves, and Sunday afternoons playing in the sun with my cousins.

(Then I remember the time we played hide-and-go-seek outside in the middle of the night and no one came to look for me for half an hour. That part? Not so comforting.)

Squash and Green Beans in Coconut Milk (Kalabasa at Sitaw sa Gata in Filipino) is one of my favorite Filipino vegetable dishes. It’s not truly vegetarian, though you can easily make it so. Traditionally, we flavor this dish with tiny shrimp and ground or diced pork. I had neither, so this is my simple, adapted version. In place of shrimp, I used fish sauce; for the ground pork, I used my home-cured bacon.

ivoryhut Squash and Green Beans in Coconut Milk

The key element here is the coconut milk, which you cook down until it becomes a sauce. It ties everything nicely, and it gives you something to spoon over garlic fried rice to complete the meal.

ivoryhut Squash and Green Beans in Coconut Milk

While not absolutely authentic (the real deal uses long beans), it was darn close. The fish sauce provides all the sauce you need, and the crispy bacon bits give you a bit of chewiness to contrast the soft texture of the cooked squash and beans. It’s hearty enough to serve as a main course, and it’s divine as a side dish paired with fried fish or pork chops.

ivoryhut Squash and Green Beans in Coconut Milk


Squash and Green Beans in Coconut Milk (Kalabasa at Sitaw sa Gata)
Serves 6

If you can’t find long beans, you can substitute green beans. Keep in mind that green beans cook faster than long beans, so add them in after the squash has cooked for about 8 minutes.

8 oz. bacon, diced
1 small onion, diced
4 large cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons fish sauce, or to taste
13.5 oz. can of coconut milk
whole fresh green chilies (optional)
2 pounds squash cubes (about 1.5″ cubes, peeled)
3/4 pound long beans or green beans

In a large skillet or Dutch oven over medium heat, fry bacon until crisp, about 5 minutes. Remove bacon and all but 2 tablespoons bacon grease. Cook the diced onion and minced garlic in the bacon grease until onions are translucent, about 2 to 3 minutes. Add the fish sauce, stir, and cook for another minute until onions start to brown.

Add the coconut milk and green chili (if using). Stir and continue to cook until the liquid reduces to a thick sauce, about 10 minutes. Finally, add the squash cubes and beans. Stir, cover, and cook for about 15 minutes until vegetables are soft. Add half of the crisp bacon and stir. Adjust seasoning and serve topped with the remaining bacon.

ivoryhut Squash and Green Beans in Coconut Milk

I think the weather was in a cooperative mood because it threw up a 75ºF day today to complete the fantasy. I sat in the porch with a bowl of squash and green beans, felt the warmth surround me, and for a moment, I could have sworn I was home again.

No one came looking for me either. This time, though, I didn’t mind at all.


13 Responses to Squash and Green Beans in Coconut Milk (Kalabasa at Sitaw sa Gata)
  1. Jonah
    April 11, 2011 | 8:52 pm

    You make Filipino food so appetizing! Now I am craving this with rice!

  2. jane
    April 11, 2011 | 8:56 pm

    so wishing I could eat this right now!!!!! :)

  3. hope
    April 12, 2011 | 3:42 am

    i just had this for Sunday lunch! now i’m craving for some again…

  4. Wendi @ Bon Appetit Hon
    April 12, 2011 | 8:27 am

    This is going on my menu for next weekend.

  5. JenniferA
    April 12, 2011 | 8:40 am

    Always nice to see a new post from you, hut. And as always, I love your colorful descriptions, especially how the weather “threw up a 75° day.” Love it! :-)

  6. Doris
    April 12, 2011 | 11:23 am

    My daughter-in-law is Filipino so I love getting your recipes so I can surprise her. Thanks and keep them coming. Love your site.

  7. kamran siddiqi
    April 17, 2011 | 1:59 am

    That’s it! I’m moving in. I don’t think I know anyone that can make Kalabasa look as gorgeous!

  8. Shalum
    April 19, 2011 | 12:59 pm

    I agree! The humble Ginataang Kalabasa at Sitaw looks gorgeous here.

  9. www.StarHughes.com
    April 20, 2011 | 1:55 pm

    This looks incredible – so yummy! I’ve never heard of ANYTHING like it too – can’t wait to whip this out for my family, they will be so impressed! Great job!

  10. Jun Belen
    April 25, 2011 | 4:39 pm

    Taguan? I can very well empathize playing hide-and-seek many many years ago and not being found! :-) What a beautiful bowl of ginataan. Brings backa lot of memories!

  11. Wenderly
    May 1, 2011 | 11:36 am

    What a gorgeous dish. It’s a dreary day here, but now I am all wrapped in warmth as well!

  12. Forty Cakes – Weekly Re-cap
    January 11, 2012 | 4:21 pm

    […] Squash and Green Beans in Coconut Milk by Ivory Hut: I love all the ingredients and cooking Filipino food will help me prepare for my vacation to the Philippines very soon. […]

  13. Jocelyn
    January 7, 2014 | 2:52 pm

    First time to your site! I’m a first generation, American-born filipino and rarely cook filipino, even though I grew up eating it. I miss it and want my kids to know how yummy good filipino food can be. Thank you for posting such easy to follow recipes, and for posting gluten-free and some vegan recipes as well (like your Biko recipe)!

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about me

I write, cook, play music, and make pictures. Not necessarily in that order. I was born and raised in the Philippines, and it shows. That means I eat rice with every meal, love my cousins like my own siblings, and firmly believe that avocados are best eaten with cream and sugar.

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