Kalabasa Soup with Dried Fish

The Filipino ‘Ginataang Kalabasa’ (Squash with Coconut Milk) in its new form – more appealing, thus, picky eaters would finally love this (well, they should 😀 )

Pumpkin vs Squash. Which one is which? I’ve always had that question since I was a kid, but never really took it seriously. Then there’s my 9-year old nephew saying we are having a soup with pumpkin whenever he knows that we are having such dish.

Growing up, I know Kalabasa is squash. But just to avoid confusion (I am the one actually confused), I will call this one Kalabasa Soup.

Kalabasa Soup is a twist made on ‘Ginataang Kalabasa’ which is a soup made of Kalabasa cooked in coconut milk with spices. It is cooked in different variations from places to places. Some add chicken, shrimps and dried fish. In our home, we always use dried fish. Daing (da-ing) or Bulad (boo-lad) refers to a dried fish from the Philippines. Fish are dried by sun-drying and adding salt liberally after splitting up the fish in half and thoroughly cleaned. Bulad can be eaten as is after frying with rice and vinegar dipping sauce.

I am not a huge fan of fried Bulad, but I love it mixed with ‘Ginataang Kalabasa’

‘Ginataang Kalabasa’ looks like the photo below. My version is cooked with ginger, tomatoes, onions, Bulad and coconut milk. The addition of Bulad makes the dish so tasty. I always choose this over the ones with shrimps. Though I love the addition of Daing, I don’t eat it – I give it away (to people who would love it or to doggies).

The traditional way of serving this (in our home) is –  just eat with rice (lots of rice!!!!) and fried fish (I even fry an egg to go with this – why not?). I always mash the Kalabasa like a kid and mix it with my rice.

You may (???) wonder why I am serving this in a different form.

Kalabasa is such a favorite – kids and adults, but there are people (even adults – why??) that when this is cooked with visible veggies (coz some adds spinach, eggplants, string beans, and so on), they would only go for the soup (the coconut milk part). What’s good in that?? Eat veggies, people!

So the thought came to my mind where streets are always busy – make ‘Ginataang Kalabasa’ more appealing and easier to eat for kids and picky eater adults, too.

This may look different from the one I grew up eating but tastes exactly the same. At the end of the day, the picky eaters – kids and adults – would definitely love this. I know that, for sure. And I know that I did a good job in serving this dish in its new form.

I am taking this with me at Fiesta Friday # 198. Thank you to our ladies this week, Aunt Juju, Liz and Angie. Happy Fiesta Friday, lovely people, and have a fantastic weekend!

Kalabasa Soup with Dried Fish


  • Cooking oil
  • 3 fat garlic, minced
  • 2 thumb size ginger, chopped
  • 2 ripe tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • 2 Bulad (or any dried fish, or fresh shrimps-cleaned)
  • 3 cups Kalabasa/Calabaza (or Butternut Squash), sliced into 1×1 cubes
  • 4 cups coconut milk (I used fresh, but canned is fine)
  • Spring onions, sliced
  • Salt, to taste (if using dried fish, be careful in adding salt as the fish is already salty)


  1. In a large pot over medium-high heat, add cooking oil.
  2. When the oil is hot enough, add in garlic and ginger and cook until fragrant (about 2 minutes).
  3. Add in onions and tomatoes and cook until soft.
  4. Add in Bulad (or whatever you are using) and Kalabasa.
  5. Add in part (3/4) of the coconut milk and let the Kalabasa cook until tender. This will take 5-7minutes.
  6. Add the remaining coconut milk and let simmer for another minute.
  7. Turn off the heat and add sliced spring onions. (This gives additional flavor, too) Season with salt, if needed.
  8. When the dish has slightly cooled down, remove the Daing (you can shred the consumable parts and eat with the dish later, or discard if you want) and place the cooked dish in the food processor (or blender) and pulse until smooth and pureed.
  9. Serve this according to your liking: can be served like a traditional soup with a slice of bread (haven’t tried, but I know it will work) or with rice and another fried fish (can be fried mackerel or anything you like).

Notes: If using chicken, shrimp or meat, you may need to add bouillon cubes to enhance the flavor.


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25 thoughts on “Kalabasa Soup with Dried Fish

  1. I’ve never tried dried fish, and wouldn’t even know where to buy them from! We do have some big Asian markets here though so I guess they would sell them. I’m really intrigued to try this, I know my hubby would love it. I’ve pinned it for later, thanks so much for linking up to the #RecipeRoundUp

  2. I have only ever used dried fish once or twice it’s not really part of our cuisine. But this dish looks and sounds really interesting. I bet the flavour is delicious . Thank you for linking to #CookBlogShare

  3. Never heard of bulad – that is one good looking dried fish! I would have to go for the shrimps! Looks delicious and what a different twist on the squash soup I am familiar with. Thanks for bringing a fun recipe to the party Jhuls 🙂

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