Sunday, October 14, 2007
Spaghetti Squash with Green Onions
Weekend Herb Blogging is celebrating its two year anniversary! For this extra special celebration I wanted to make a dish with one of my favorite vegetables and herbs. My all-time favorite vegetable are plump, fresh snap peas but those aren't exactly seasonal right now. But autumn means that it's squash season and this is a special dish that I only make a handful of times each year.
My dad didn't cook much but this is a dish that I learned from him, one he learned from my nai nai (paternal grandmother). When he made it, he would always say nai nai made it better but I thought it was always delicious every time he made it. As a child, it was one of my favorite vegetable dishes. The dish is incredibly easy to make and uses only 2 main ingredients, one vegetable and one herb. The key difference between this recipe and all other spaghetti squash recipe is that the strands of squash are kept crunchy and crisp instead of cooked to soft and tender. It is served cold to maximize the crunch of the strands and is very refreshing. The second ingredient is green onion, which bursts in hot oil releasing its fragrant aroma and that aromatic oil is used to dress the squash. Green onion (tied with thyme as my favorite herb) was the only herb in my house growing up and is indispensable in Chinese cooking. The marriage of the green onion oil with toasted sesame oil makes this dish smell absolutely amazing and mouthwatering.
- I've always steamed the squash face up but I realized after I made it last time, that it would make more sense to steam it face down so that more of the squash is in contact with the steam. This will most likely shorten the steaming time so be aware of this.
- The important part about steaming the squash is that you want to steaming for as little time as possible to maximize the crunch. However, steam too short and the squash will still be raw and impossible to scrape out of the shell. Steam too long and it will be too soft and mushy and you'll lose that crunch. So after about 13ish minutes poke the squash with a blunt butter knife. If the knife cannot penetrate the flesh of the squash at all, steam longer. You want the knife to be able to penetrate the squash but still feel resistance. It's a little tricky but don't worry you'll get the hang of it.
- Since this recipe makes a lot (you'd be surprised by how much squash there is after the strands are separated), if you've never steamed squash before, you can steam half of the squash and keep the other half wrapped in plastic wrap in the fridge to steam the next day. This way you can test just how long you need to steam it.
Spaghetti Squash with Green Onions
(makes a lot of squash, serves 4 - 6)
1 spaghetti squash
4 to 5 green onions, thinly sliced try to keep the greens separate from the white parts
1 1/2 to 2 Tbsp of neutral oil like canola
2 tsp to 1 Tbsp toasted sesame oil
Pinch or two of sugar
Bring water in a steamer to a boil. Cut the squash in half and scoop out as many seeds as possible (you can finish scooping after steaming it).
Steam the squash for about 15 to 20 minutes (steaming face up times, for face down, see note above). After about 13ish minutes poke the squash with a blunt butter knife. If the knife cannot penetrate the flesh of the squash at all, steam longer. You want the knife to be able to penetrate the squash but still feel resistance.
Have a bowl of (ice cold preferably) cold water ready and after the squash has finished steaming, plunk it in the cold water to stop cooking.
As soon as it is cool enough to handle, take it out, dump out the water in the bowl and add more cold water. With a spoon scrape out any remaining seeds and discard, then scrape out the spaghetti strands, keeping the stands intact as much as possible. Scrape the strands into the cold water. This helps each strand to cool down and recrisp.
After you have scraped all the squash, drain it into a colander. Then take your hands and grab a handful of the squash. Squeeze out as much water as possible then place it in a mixing bowl. Continue until you have squeezed all the squash. Alternatively, you can add handfuls of the squash to cheesecloth and squeeze it out that way.
Heat your oil in a wok or skillet (I eyeball it but its about 2 Tbsp) over medium heat. Add the sliced white part of the green onion, you can add it to the cold oil. The white part has more bite so it needs to be cooked a little longer. Let it gently bubble in the oil until you can smell the aroma, do not let them brown. After a few minutes, add the sliced green part and let it infuse into the hot oil for about a minute then take it off the heat. Scrape all of the oil and green onion into the green onions and toss it to evenly distribute. Then drizzle in the sesame oil, add the sugar, sprinkle salt to taste, and mix again. Make sure to really evenly distribute the salt. Chill in the fridge for a few hours and serve cold.
WHB is a wonderful weekly event created by Kalyn of Kalyn's Kitchen where bloggers can blog about vegetables and herbs. Head on over to her blog to check out the Doubly Delish Celebration and Roundup for the Weekend Herb Blogging Two Year Anniversary.