Probably one of my most favorite of the Northern Thai and Hmong curry dishes is squash curry. In Madison, this dish reigns supreme at many of our local Thai, Lao or Hmong restaurants. Each place makes it a little different. My favorite place in Madison is Vientiane Palace because they roast their squash first. The roasting just takes the flavor to another place for me. But because it's fall and I often get lots of squash at the farmer's market and from my CSA (Keewaydin Farms), I had to make my favorite dish. This is a lightly adapted version from one I saw on Chowhound. As long as you always keep coconut milk and red curry in your pantry you can always make a good curry out of any veggie or meat you have. This version is without meat or tofu at all but when I get it at Vientiane Palace, I always get the tofu as it's the best one. I made this version using butternut squash but I prefer Kabocha squash as it's less sweet for me and the squash doesn't break down as fast as butternut does after cooking for a while, retaining some of the texture. You can really add any veggies to this with the squash. I had some zucchini but you can add green peppers, tomatoes, green eggplant, etc. They all taste really good together with the squash. Enjoy!
- 1 tablespoon peanut oil
- 1 medium yellow onion, small dice or cut
- 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, plus more for seasoning
- 2 medium green bell peppers, seeds and ribs removed and cut into 1/4-inch strips (OPTIONAL)
- or 1 zucchini, 2-3 small green eggplant, or 1-2 small plum tomatoes (OPTIONAL or mix of)
- 4 medium garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 1 tablespoon peeled and finely chopped fresh ginger (from about a 1-1/2-inch piece)
- 3 tablespoons Thai red curry paste
- 1 (14oz) can unsweetened regular coconut milk
- 1 (14oz) can unsweetened regular coconut cream
- 1/2 cup water
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- 1 medium kabocha squash (about 2 -3lbs), peeled, seeded, and cut into 1-inch cubes
- 2tsp fish sauce (to taste)
- 1-2 TBSP palm sugar (or regular sugar) (to taste) (optional but cuts out the acid)
- 2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lime juice
- 1/4 cup coarsely chopped fresh cilantro
- Steamed white rice, for serving
- Heat the oil in a large cast iron bot over medium heat until shimmering. Add the onion and 1 teaspoon of the salt and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion has softened, about 6 minutes. Add the garlic and ginger, stir to combine, and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute.
- Add the curry paste, stir to coat the onion-pepper mixture, and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the coconut milk, coconut cream, water, soy sauce, fish sauce and remaining 1/2 teaspoon of salt, stir to combine, and bring to a simmer.
- Stir in the squash and other vegetables (zucchini or eggplant or tomatoes, etc) return to a simmer, reduce the heat to medium low, and continue to simmer, stirring occasionally, until the squash is fork-tender but still firm, about 20 to 25 minutes. *NOTE: you might have to wait to throw in zucchini for example as it will cook much quicker than your squash. So if you use zucchini, wait until 10 min after you added your squash to add.
- Add palm sugar to taste. I like to use it here depending on the acidity of the veggies you use. It will make the dish more complex and flavorful if you do.
- Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the lime juice. Taste and season with salt and/or fish sauce as needed.
- Sprinkle with the cilantro and serve immediately over steamed rice.