The Chinese and their Greens (Part 8/12)
Chinese pumpkin can be found in supermarkets all over Hong Kong as well as cut up into meal-sized chunks for sale at your local wet market. They are smooth, long and gourd-shaped compared to their short, fat and stout western version. They are also affordable and oh so versatile. Whoever told you pumpkins are only for Halloween jack-o-lanterns obviously doesn't spend much time in the kitchen. When I make soup with it, I tend to leave the skin on but when I braise it like I do this dish, skin off! I admit that I do not teach pumpkin dishes enough in my cooking classes...well, that is going to change!
Chinese pumpkin with minced pork cooked with a heaping dollop of black bean garlic sauce is such a delightfully simple dish to conjure up on a weeknight. Goes well generously ladled on top of a big bowl of rice and makes for an even tastier office lunchbox the next day. It's sweet and savoury all at once and if you like a kick in your meal, throw in some chill flakes. I would do this with chicken or beef but I'm unbashfully partial to pork.
As I do with any meat that I cook with vegetables, a quick marinade of cornstarch, soy sauce, salt, sugar and vegetable oil (1/2 - 1 tsp of each) before frying is key. Splash with water while cooking if the dish is dry and thicken with a cornstarch water solution if it's too watery. Taste every dish and start by under seasoning and slowly work your way up. Good luck with your lovely orange squash!