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Last updateFri, 22 Feb 2019 12am







    Wednesday, February 20, 2019-9:39:22A.M.






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Our Oceania: The perfect dish for rainy season

LAST week, I met Hyatt Executive Sous Chef Zenn Tomokane at the Garapan Public Market, my new favorite place to shop for local produce.

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Pai Capilleo poses with pumpkins at the Garapan Public Market. Step 1
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“The reason why we have a local market is to promote fruits and vegetables that are responsibly grown by local farmers and backyard farmers,” Leeroy Pangelinan told us. Pangelinan is the manager of Garapan Public Market. He says the Department of Lands and Natural Resources assists Garapan Public Market in its mission to expand locals’ role in producing food for the Saipan community.

You can tell this market is the real deal from the moment you walk through the door; there’s no ignoring the powerful scent of guava and citrus and all the things people were actually meant to eat.

“You always want to buy [produce] when it’s in season and it’s at its peak,” Tomokane told me as we dug through their pumpkin display. “No blemishes or bruises... You’re buying by weight so anything you trim off is lost value.”

Tomokane picked two prize pumpkins from the pile and we headed into the kitchen to prepare Alaguan Kalabasa, or Chamorro pumpkin soup. It’s the perfect dish for rainy season — hearty and homey, it only requires ingredients with a long shelf life, so provided you keep pumpkins and condensed milk laying around (highly recommended), you don’t have to venture out into the storm to put dinner on the table. Here’s how we did it:

Step 1: Prepare Your Pumpkin

Clean and seed two small pumpkins, then chop them into bite-size pieces. The smaller the pieces, the faster they’ll cook.

Step 2: Caramelize

Pour ¾ cup of brown sugar in a deep pot and place on medium heat. Once it melts and you can smell it, it’s done.

Step 3: Simmer

Add your chopped pumpkin to the pot along with just enough water to submerge all the chunks. Stir to distribute the sugar so that the water turns brown. Add one cup of dry rice, Then place on medium-high heat, bring to a simmer, and cover until the pumpkin becomes tender (10-15 minutes).

Step 4: Final Touches

Once the pumpkin is soft and the rice is cooked, use a spoon to mash up the pumpkin chunks so the soup is a more consistent texture overall. Add a pinch of salt, one can of evaporated milk, and additional brown sugar to taste.

And there you have it — simple, delicious pumpkin soup, perfect for a rainy day.