Pretty is as pretty does, and this gorgeous dish tastes as great as it looks! Mirin is a rice wine, similar to sake, and generally available in Asian markets. If you can’t find it, you can substitute the same amount of vermouth plus ½ teaspoon sugar.
Makes 4 servings
2 acorn squashes
1½ cups chopped onions, trimmings reserved
¾ cup chopped celery, trimmings reserved
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, in all
½ cup chopped green bell peppers
½ cup chopped red bell peppers
½ cup chopped yellow bell peppers
2 tablespoons sesame seeds
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh ginger
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh garlic
3 cups fresh corn kernels, in all
½ cup mirin, in all
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
¼ cup soy sauce
¼ teaspoon dark sesame oil
4 cups cooked brown rice
¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro
How To Prepare
In a 6-quart pot, bring 10 cups of water to a boil over high heat. Add the trimmings from the onions and celery and the squash halves. Poach the squash for 10 minutes, remove from the pot, drain, then carefully peel them. If you want to make them especially pretty, leave a thin line of the green peel running down each indentation. Set aside.
Add the squash peel to the pot, reduce the heat to medium and continue to simmer the liquid and the trimmings, letting the liquid reduce while you continue the recipe.
Melt 3 tablespoons of butter in a 12-inch nonstick skillet over high heat. When the butter sizzles, add the onions, all the bell peppers, the celery, sesame seeds, ginger, garlic, and 1 cup of corn. Cook, stirring and scraping occasionally, for 5 minutes. Before the onions develop their sweet, cooked flavor, they have a slightly acidic taste which works against the sweet tastes from the other vegetables. Notice the faint but growing sesame flavor in the background. Stir in the Shrimp Magic® and continue to cook, stirring and scraping frequently until the color of the vegetables resembles autumn leaves, about 4 to 6 minutes. Now you’ll see that brown bits are forming—pure flavor! The taste of the seasoning has changed dramatically, although the flavor is still very intense. Note how the addition of the seasoning changes all the other flavors and also how the sweetness of the corn develops as it cooks.
Add the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter. Stir well then add 3 tablespoons of mirin. Continue to cook until the butter melts and disappears and the mirin is absorbed, about 2 minutes. Remove ¾ cup of the cooked mixture and set it aside. Add the flour to the skillet and stir until the white is no longer visible. Strain 3 cups of the poaching water and add to the skillet. Stir in well, then add the remaining corn, the remaining mirin, and the soy sauce. Continue to cook, stirring and scraping frequently, until the liquid thickens to a sauce consistency, about 18 minutes. Add the sesame oil, stir in well, then remove from the heat. Yields about 4 cups of sauce.
Carefully, to prevent their breaking up, return the cooked acorn squash halves to the simmering water until they are re-heated, about 3 minutes. You might want to place them in a colander before immersing in the water. Remove and drain.
In a separate bowl, combine the reserved vegetable mixture with the brown rice (re-heat the rice if necessary) and cilantro. Mix well. Fill each acorn squash half with 1 cup of the rice mixture, mounding the mixture on top of the squash.
To serve, place 1 cup of sauce on a heated plate and place 1 stuffed squash half on top.