Posts Tagged ‘Kabocha Pumpkin’

Thai Pumping Custard

Tomorrow, I will visit a friend on Vashon Island, and I want to surprise her with some Thai pumpkin custard for dessert. Yesterday I found the right size of Kabocha pumpkin and some fresh pandanus leaves (also known as pandan), two crucial ingredients for making this dish. Now it has been cooked and is sitting in my refrigerator.  All I have to do is to take it with me before catching the ferry.

Thai pumpkin custard is every Thai’s favorite dessert. We seldom make them at home but we always purchase from the artisans when available. Most of the time it is hard to find small-sized Kabocha pumpkins. I use duck egg but chicken eggs also work, so I would suggest that the freshness and availability should be considered key in making a decision. Pandanus leaf is an important part of making traditional Thai custard, you can find it fresh or frozen in various Asian markets. At home I always have a dozen in the freezer. If I don’t have the right size pumpkin and pandanus leaf, I prefer to prepare other custard dishes instead of using a substitution.

Below is a slide show of pictures taken in Khmer Cooking Class which is located in Siem Reap. To my surprise, the teacher didn’t use the pandanus leaf but instead used a whisk to mix the custard mixture instead. This could be another way for you to try at home when pandanus leaf is not available. The rest of the steps are very much the same.

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Sangaya Namtao

Thai pumpkin Custard

Serves: 6

Preparing time: 15 minutes

Steaming time: 45 minutes

1 small Kabocha pumpkin, about 5  inches across and 4 inches tall
4 duck eggs, about 1 cup eggs or chicken eggs
½ cup evaporated cane sugar or palm sugar
½ cup coconut milk
½ teaspoon salt
2 pandanus leave, torn into 4 pieces lengthwise from each leaf

Clean outside of the pumpkin well and dry with towel. Insert the knife on the top pumpkin to make a lid of about 2 inches wide (please see photo from a slide show). Remove all seeds from the inside the pumpkin until completely clean.

Add water to a steamer to 1 ½ inches tall and bring to a boil while preparing the custard.

To make custard, place egg, sugar, coconut milk  into a medium-size bowl. Use torn pandanus leaves to massage and mix the custard mixture by hand constantly for 8 minutes. This is a Thai  tradition way to make a custard instead of whisking. Pandanus leaves helps the mixing process, at the same time pandanus flavor is infused into the custard mixture.

Strain and fill the custard into the pumpkin, make sure to leave a 2/3 inch free space from the top.

Steam the pumpkin custard in the steamer, also the lid but separately. Do not cover pumpkin with the lid. It should be done between 40 to 45 minutes. To tell the custard is cooked when shake the custard is not moving except 1 inch in the center. And that is when to turn off the steamer and remove the lid and let the pumpkin custard sit until cool down.

Cut into wedge and serve cold or at room temperature.

© 2010  Pranee Khruasanit Halvorsen  
 I Love Thai cooking
Pranee teachs Thai Cooking class in Seattle areas, her website is:  I Love Thai cooking.com

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When I visited my mom in Phuket in March 2009, I  dropped by to see her everyday for her home cooked meal. I didn’t plan to tape this video with Kabocha and pork, but at that moment, I wanted to record her cooking and share it with my students. My mom loves to surprise me with my favorite childhood dish. And she knew best. I love her recipe with shrimp paste but you can omit it and use fish sauce and soy sauce instead to give it a flavorful salty flavor.  Shrimp paste, soy sauce and fish sauce are Thai umami.  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Umami.

Phad Namtao Moo
Stir-fried Kabocha Pumpkin with Pork

This recipe combines pumpkin with pork – and it may not seem like one that appeals to you at first.  Think of it as mashed potato with chicken broth next to pork chop gravy. The Kabocha melts in your mouth with a sweet taste and creamy texture. The shrimp paste leaves a hint of  saltiness to contrast the sweetness of Kabocha, and the fried garlic enhances the flavor. Be adventuresome  and try this as a side dish with steamed jasmine rice and curry dishes.

3 tablespoons canola oil
3 cloves garlic, peeled and sliced
2 teaspoons shrimp paste or 2 tablespoons fish sauce
¼ cup minced pork
3 cups Kabocha pumpkin chunks, seeds and skin removed
½ cup water or more as needed

Heat a wok on high heat, pour in canola oil and stir in garlic. When garlic is yellow, stir in shrimp paste and pork and cook until fragrant. Stir in Kabocha and add water to reach the top. Stir well, cover and let it cook until Kabocha is cooked in the center. Test by pressing a fork against Kabocha; it should break easily. You should taste a balance of salty and sweet from Kabocha.

Vegetarian option: omit pork, egg also popular instead of pork

Gluten-Free option: use wheat free soy sauce

© 2009  Pranee Khruasanit Halvorsen
I Love Thai cooking

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Kabocha Pumpkin


Kabocha Pumpkin

Kabocha is a hard skinned variety of  Japanese pumpkin and winter squash. It has an amazingly sweetness, dense and silky texture and almost fibreless with dark green thick skin and bright yellow-orange flesh. This variety is preferred for Thai cooking and Thai people incorporate it in soup, curry, stir-fry and dessert dishes. Buttercup squash or Hubbard belongs to the same species and can be substituted for Kabocha. Pumpkin is a squash, but pumpkin is also a term that applies to almost all hard-skinned winter squash, not summer squash like zuchini. There are two known types of pumpkin that are used in Thai cooking – niho kabocha with a bumpy surface and kuri(seiyo) kabocha that has pale vertical stripes.

How to pick a good Kabocha squash

Kabocha should be fully ripe 45 days after it is harvested – when the starch has had a chance to convert to carbohydrate content. The flesh color then will change from yellow to a deeper color or orange. I choose a dark green skin pumpkin that has a hollow sound when I thump it.  The best way to judge whether the Kabocha is ready is to buy a cut one so you can see its color and the texture inside.

Pranee’s Tips

To cut Kabocha in half, I first use a big knife and hammer to open it.  The rest is easy. I then cut it into 1 – 1½ in wedges, and use the back of the knife or spoon to remove the seeds.  I only peel it based on the recipe. Personally, I love the skin and it has more nutrients than the yellow part.

To prepare Kabocha for dumpling or pie, simply remove skin and seeds and cut into 1- inch chunks, steam about 15 minutes until tender and use a ricer to make a fine mash.

For soup, you may choose to leave the skin on which is tender when cooked. Remove the seeds and cut into the size according to the recipe.

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