My favorite Thai restaurant has a dish that a friend turned me on to several years ago. It’s quite possible that without her recommendation, I’d never have tried it and experienced the magic. It’s a pumpkin red curry, and up to that point I was a staunch yellow curry fan. And I only liked squash in one thing: pumpkin pie (which isn’t even close to my favorite pie).
But I instantly fell in love with the pumpkin red curry (made with kabocha squash). It became my go-to dish at Thai Spices and it’s not something I’ve seen at other Thai restaurants for some reason. Eventually I tried other things as well (because if this was so good, might not other menu items be as delicious? Yes, yes they are. They make a special shiitake mushroom and basil dish that knocks my socks off.)
I’ve been wanting to try the pumpkin red curry for several years but never quite found the right red curry paste, and the kabocha squash intimidated me. But at a recent trip to the Asian market — which happens to be adjacent to Thai Spices — I picked up 1/2 of a kabocha squash and a jar of red curry paste. It’s Malaysian curry paste, not the Thai red curry paste I was hoping for, but I took a gamble. Which paid off well!
Adapted from Thai Red Curry with Kabocha Squash
- 1 tbsp canola oil
- 1 medium white onion, medium dice
- 1 tsp salt
- 3 orange bell peppers, large dice
- 1 tbsp pureed fresh ginger
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/2 kabocha squash, seeded and peeled, cut into 1-inch pieces
- 4 tbsp Malaysian curry paste
- 1 can coconut milk
- 1/2 c water
- 1/2 c frozen peas
- 3/4 c frozen thin green beans
- 1 tsp lime zest (didn’t have lime juice)
- 1 tbsp soy sauce
Saute the onion in oil over medium heat until it’s softened, then add the peppers, garlic, and ginger. Cook for a minute.
Add curry paste, cook for a minute, then add coconut milk, water, soy sauce, and salt. Bring to a simmer.
Stir in the squash, and simmer on low for about 20 min. Add the frozen veggies and lime zest, heat through, and serve over steamed rice.
I feel like I’ve finally discovered the secret to good Thai curry at home: the combination of the jarred curry paste and coconut milk is heavenly. And the kabocha, while a major pain to peel, turned out perfectly. The dish was so similar to the restaurant’s version that I was in disbelief.
Curry is one of my favorite comfort foods, and this one is a wonderful blend of sweet, hot, and rich. Can’t wait to make again! I may try baking the squash before peeling and cutting because I’ve read that it makes it easier to get the skin off. But then I’d want to add it to the sauce later, and it may not have such a great, deep flavor. I think buying the already-cut-in-half squash would be smart to do again — for safety’s sake.