“Are we trespassing?”
I was home visiting my parents in California and they had asked me to join them in running a quick errand to pick up some stuff for dinner that night. I was about to start my journey to the freeway to get us to the Chinese Supermarket, before my Mom told me to make a quick right. She proceeded to give me directions to go deeper into the suburban neighborhood that we lived in. Eventually she led me to the driveway of a standard California ranch house that looked similar to everyone else we knew.
I assumed we were just stopping over to say hello to a family friend, but my parents proceed to exit out of the car and walk toward the side of the house, open the gate, and walk into their yard.
“No, we are only trespassing if you’re not wanted.” My mom says with affirmation. “Besides, they’re not home”
“But what if they are home?” I still feel uneasy about the whole situation. I get a vivid image of me getting arrested with my parents by the police and having to tell my brother, our lawyer, that we weren’t trespassing because we were wanted. I get anxious.
My dad chimes in. “Then we say hello.”
We walk into the yard and I am amazed. One of my parent’s friends had turned his yard into an amazing mini-farm full of Taiwanese vegetables and fruits. They had surrounded their pool with trees saturated with guava, wax apple, and persimmon fruit. All along the grass: Chinese watercress, bok choy, Taiwanese greens, and chayote had grown bright green leaves in the warm California sun. It was a magical place where birds where singing and butterflies where fluttering. The sun had a big smiley face and clouds where dancing in the sky. My parents had pulled the “freshest Taiwanese produce you will ever have outside of the Island” card to get me to stay in California; and it was a shady card to pull.
“Ok, I’m going to get the stuff on the floor, can you cut off the squash? It’s too high for me to reach.” My Mom brings me back to
So on top of trespassing, we are adding stealing to my rap sheet? Well, it can’t be any worse then it already is. Plus, she distracted me with the right vegetable: The “Long Squash”.
It’s a pale gourd that imparts a fabulous broth that is slightly sweet. The finished broth is almost all the liquid and juice that comes from the squash and mixed with the salty dried shrimp; it’s an amazing winter dish that warms the soul and eases all anxiety of any felony you decide to do with your family. You can get it at most Asian markets. If you can’t find “Long Squash”, you can use “Chinese Okra” or “Fuzzy Squash”. But it if you can’t find “Long Squash”, you probably can’t find the other two. Sorry, maybe you can grow it in your backyard? I’ll come trespass and steal some.
1 tbs canola, vegetable, or peanut oil
1 large clove garlic, sliced
1 tbs. dried shrimp (can substitute with 2 anchovy fillets)
2 large “Long Squash”, sliced (about 4 cups)
1/4 c. broth or water
2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. ground white pepper
sauté garlic and shrimp in oil in dutch oven on high heat until shrimp is tan in color and garlic turns a nutty brown
add squash, liquid, and seasoning and stir
simmer on medium heat until squash breaks down and turns into a soup, about 15 minutes