Throughout history, recipes handed down to generations have presented that a food specialty doesn’t have to be cooked with many ingredients. Such is the case with linutik, a Negrense cuisine with two essential ingredients, namely, the kalabasa (squash) and the gata (coconut milk), both recognized as rich, flavorful, and utterly delicious.

The word linutik may have been derived from latik, a Hiligaynon word that means to make into a syrup. In Negros, the most common form of latik is a coconut and sugar reduction used in desserts. And while linutik soup is savory, the process of creating syrup inspires its name. In Iloilo, for instance, linutik is also called nilatik na kalabasa. And there are many versions throughout the country. Of all, however, the Negrense linutik, with fewer ingredients, appears to be the purist version.

Because most of its kind are brightly colored like fruits, but taste from mild to savory like vegetables, squash may be confusing to classify. A fruit contains seeds in or on their flesh and also grows from the flowers of the plant.  Vegetables, on the other hand, have seeds that grow separately from the part eaten and can be recognized as the plant itself - the leaves, roots, and stems.

Vibrantly colored, packed with vitamins and minerals, and deliciously composed with the simplest of ingredients, the linutik nga kalabasa is a classic Negrense dish.

Squash has internal seeds, grows from the flowers of the plant and have fleshy interior with thick skin, just like melons. Therefore, botanically, it is considered a fruit. It is worthy of mentioning that tomato, string beans, cucumber, olive, eggplant, corn, okra, green pepper, and all other gourds are technically fruits, not vegetables. They are typically prepared in a savory process and served as part of a meal.

Coconut trees are a common sight in the Philippine countryside. It is considered a tree of life because you can use every part of it. Negrense cuisine uses a lot of different flavors in their dishes and incorporating coconut milk makes it hearty and satisfying.

The squash or pumpkin in the linutik is mashed to a smooth consistency.

Linutik is an eye-catching and nutritious soup dish that you can make at home. Fresh vegetables on-hand can whip up this creative mash-up of ingredients, a marrying of flavors and textures. It is an emulsion of silkiness coming from the squash that is intensified by the creaminess produced from the coconut milk. One might even think that there is milk in this soup.

As an option, you may add shrimp and malunggay (moringa leaves) into the mix but this dish is delicious in itself. It is noteworthy to mention that the nutrients coming from the squash and malunggay are prodigious elements that will make even the most health-conscious person want to try it.

Malunggay (Moringa Oleifera) leaves, with its health-giving properties, is a welcome addition to the linutik.

Linutik, the old-fashioned way, is not common in restaurants. Instead, they have their own version, a modern-day squash or pumpkin soup processed through a blender to make it a vibrant orange, more fine, and creamier. A number of herbs added, too. Whichever version you choose to make, the linutik is a sure comfort food that can satisfy your cravings.

Linutik can be eaten before the main course or you can pair it with fried fish to add a bit of saltiness into the mix, with its savory flavors and the sweet notes of the squash melded in a spoonful of steamed rice.

Linutik is a soup that is traditionally prepared, totally enjoyable with a sentimental appeal that can be nostalgic and comforting. It can be a food experience that can create a sensation leaving a profound meaning. With lives that have begun and ended, this dish that has been passed down to each generation has unfolded memories and stories that will remain forever and shared in every family gathering.

A luxe version of the linutik is made with the addition of shrimps.


1 Tbsp. oil
3 cloves garlic, sliced
1 small onion, sliced
12-15 medium-size shrimps, peeled, optional
½ kg. squash, sliced thinly in small pieces
    Tip: Use a young squash with a green peel because it is tough and flesh is very firm making it ready for cooking.

2 ½ to 3 cups fresh gata (coconut milk) - 2nd squeeze *
1 ½ cups fresh gata (coconut milk) - 1st squeeze *
1 cup malunggay (moringa leaves), optional
Salt to taste

    * Note: You can also use canned coconut milk if fresh coconut pulp isn’t available.

Gata Preparation:

    1. Prepare ½ cup of warm water to use for your shredded coconut pulp. The warm water will help squeeze out more coconut milk from the pulp.
    2. Pour ¼ cup water  to moisten the coconut pulp. Now squeeze into it and catch the liquid into a cup. Collect 1 ½ cups. The 1st squeeze will be used for cooking.
    3. Put ¼ cup water again and squeeze one more time. Collect 2 ½ to 3 cups. The 2nd squeeze will be used for boiling.

    NOTE: You can add more warm water on the 1st or 2nd squeeze depending on how juicy the coconut pulp is.

Squash preparation:

    1. Slice squash thinly into small pieces so it can cook faster.
    2. Boil in a pot with water until squash becomes tender.
    3. Once soft, take it out from the pot.
    4. Mash the squash with a fork until it becomes fine. It is normal to have small lumps or chunks, that adds texture to the soup.
    5. Set aside


Sauté garlic in oil. Add the onions after.
To extract and add more flavor, put in the shrimps and sauté.
Sauté the mashed squash in the same pot.
Add the 2nd squeeze coconut milk and let it boil.
Once boiling, add in the 1st squeeze coconut milk and stir.
When boiled, add the malunggay.
Add salt to taste.
Cover the pot with a lid for around 2 minutes.
Check if malunggay is cooked then turn off the stove.

Makes 4-5 servings
    NOTE: The shrimp and malunggay are optional. If you choose to not include one of them or both, you can do so. It is a matter of preference and whatever may be available in your kitchen.

Recipe shared by Belinda Siena Eguid
44 years old
Current cook of the Locsin-Gamboa family

Text by: Massah Gonzales-Gamboa
Photography by: Project Twenty Six
Food Styling by: David Dadivas
 The basic ingredients of the linutik - simple, healthy, and readily available.

The linutik nga kalabasa is a staple in most Negrense homes.

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