We have a trellis in the backyard where a healthy vine of patola (luffa) grows. It's a seasonal plant I think, because one day it will fruit like crazy and before you know it, the vine withers and dies.
When it's patola season, the house goes into a patola cooking frenzy and we will have patola for lunch for days on end until the season's harvest is spent. I swear, even dishes I knew didn't contain patola all of a sudden have patola in them.
For lunch yesterday we had chopseuy. This one, I will confess I am not so sure-- should it really have patola? It's a dish that contains all the local vegetables you can think of, why not patola? See I have a sneaking suspicion that a long long time ago, this recipe was invented out of a dire need to clean out a vegetable bin. If that's the case, then, yeah, why not patola. Regardless, our chopseuy recipe has patola in it. If you don't have it, you can skip it. I'm sure it's not a chopseuy deal-breaker.
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 red onion, diced
1/4 lb shrimp, peeled. Reserve heads and shells
1/2 lb boneless chicken, cubed
salt and pepper
1 small cauliflower, cut into small pieces
1 carrot, sliced
1 sayote, diced
1/2 cup green beans, sliced
1 cup patola, sliced
1/4 head of cabbage, sliced
1 red bell pepper, sliced
1/2 cup snow peas, stalks removed
1/2 pechay Baguio (Chinese cabbage), sliced
1 cup chicken liver, sliced
2 tsp cornstarch
1 tbsp soy sauce
salt and pepper
Using a mortar and pestle, crush the reserved shrimp heads and shells. Strain juice from the crushed shrimp heads and shells into a small bowl and set aside. Toss the crushed stuff into the compost bin.
Saute the garlic and onion in about 2 tablespoons of cooking oil. Add chicken and cook for 3 minutes. Add chicken liver and cook for 3 minutes more. Pour in soy sauce. Toss until the chicken and liver are evenly coated. Pour in the shrimp juice. Add 1 cup of water and bring to a boil. Lower heat and let it simmer for 5 minutes. Add the shrimp.
Bring heat to medium and add the cauliflower, carrot, sayote, green beans, and patola. Cook for about 3 minutes. Then add the cabbage, bell pepper, snow peas, and pechay Baguio. Season with salt and pepper. Cover and simmer for 5 minutes or until vegetables are just tender. Stir cornstarch in 1/4 cup of water and add to the vegetables. Simmer until the sauce thickens a bit.