With reluctance, I have returned home from the desert. It was really difficult to leave behind the crazy landscape, gorgeous morning sunlight, and infinite quietude. I’m trying to find a way to not mention waking up each day to a hot cup of tea and a fire in the living room fireplace but let’s be real here: I hate being cold and any time I can spend lounging by flames is a major highlight. So back in Los Angeles, I’m drinking
a handcrafted cup of tea reheated coffee from yesterday beside a roaring fire space heater while gazing out at an unforgettable sunrise morning traffic. It’s a grey day in more ways than one. I need something warm and spicy. I need to feel better about the world. I need curry.
The star of this tasty dish is the kabocha squash (sometimes called a Japanese pumpkin) whose flavor is rich and sweet. If you’ve never cooked with or tasted one, today is the day! The texture of the squash is also amazing because it’s somewhat dense and really soaks up the curry flavor. The combination of sweet pumpkin and a spicy curry is essentially unparallelled bliss.
Enjoy this vegetarian delight (strict vegetarians will want to omit the fish sauce from the recipe but unless it’s for dietary reasons I strongly suggest using it in this recipe) with a cold Singha beer or warm sake. (My preference is always for warm sake as opposed to room temp or chilled, but take note not to serve a high quality sake heated as the delicate flavors will be lost!)
I made this recipe the first time after finding it on a blog called “Eat. Live. Run.” I hope you will check it out because Jenna enthusiastically shares all kinds of recipes that are well written and easy to prepare. It’s a very charming blog.
Red Thai Curry with Kabocha Squash
Slightly adapted from “Eat. Live. Run”
1 Mediun Kabocha Squash
1 T EVOO
2 T Canola Oil (divided)
1 Yellow Onion, diced
3 T Red Curry Paste
1 15 oz. Can Coconut Milk
¼ C Water
2 Kaffir lime leaves*, torn (if you can only find dried leaves, that’s fine, use 4!)
6 Thai Basil Leaves*, chopped (if you can only find dried leaves, that’s fine, use 2 T)
1 T Fish Sauce
2 tsp Brown Sugar
2 Red Thai Chilies, pierced several times with a knife
1 Red Bell Pepper, sliced
1 C Cut Fresh Green Beans
8 oz. Firm Tofu
Cooked Brown or Forbidden (black) Rice for serving
*You can find these at your local Asian market. I go to California Market in Koreatown here in LA for mine but if you live somewhere without an ethnic market, you might find these leaves dried in the spice aisle of your regular supermarket.
Directions: Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cut Kabocha Squash in half and remove the seeds. Drizzle a foil lined baking sheet with EVOO and place squash cut-side down on the tray. Roast until tender (approx 30 minutes.) Remove from oven and let cool.
In a large pot or deep pan, heat 1 T canola oil over medium heat. Sauté the onion until slightly translucent. Switch to medium-high heat and add remaining canola oil and red curry paste. Mash the paste into the hot oil until incorporated. Slowly add the coconut milk. Use a whisk and stir constantly until all milk has been added and no clumps of curry paste remain.
Add water, kefir lime, basil, fish sauce, brown sugar and red chilies. Bring to a simmer. Add bell pepper and green beans. Continue to simmer until vegetables are just tender (approx 15-20 minutes.)
Peel or slice kabocha squash away from peel. Chop into large chunks and add along with the tofu to the curry sauce. Simmer another 8-10 minutes and serve over. Don’t eat the chilies!