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Thai Pumpkin Seafood Stew

Here is kind of a fun one. There are all kinds of seafood soups and stews, from all cultures with land near the sea. Thailand is no different!

First of all, this recipe is somewhat based around a "pumpkin", but ... not the wondrous pumpkin we all know and love from Cinderella. This is a type of pumpkin most Westerners usually refer to as the "kabocha" squash (called "Fak Thong", in Thailand); this squash likely originated in Cambodia.

Image lifted from SnackingSquirrel.com

It's amongst one of the lowest carb winter squashes (although can usually be found, year round). It's WONDERFUL! One place where it can almost always be found is in a Tempura dish at your local Japanese haunt ... fried! The rind for a kabocha softens as it cooks and is completely edible, but I confess to cutting it off, anyway. It's a habit I developed from avoiding the rind in tempura. It's actually quite lovely and totally fine to eat (plus doesn't require the extra effort!). I leave this to you, to decide.

The taste is something like a cross between a russet potato and a sweet potato, but with significantly less carbs. It takes a bit more work to get to and is a little harder to find, but ... the effort can be worth it!

Pairing this amazing "pumpkin" with seafood, coconut and many of the Thai aromatics creates a fresh, clean, slightly sweet, healthy, creamy and smooth blend of flavors. It's a truly special dish and can be served as is, or served with some cauli-rice. Either way, you're in for a treat!

Nutrition Note: Kabocha info is based off of 4 cups of kabocha cubes, for 1/2 cup per person. Nutrition info is not in USDA database. It is an educated guess, but one which is close and honorably presented.
Prep Time30 mins
Cook Time15 mins
Total Time45 mins
Servings: 8 Servings
Calories: 481.87625kcal
Author: DJ Foodie

Ingredients

  • 1 13.5-ounce can coconut milk
  • 1 1/2 tbsp fresh galangal roughly chopped (substitution = 1 tbsp. ginger)
  • 1 tbsp lemongrass minced
  • 8 each kaffir lime leaves chopped (substitution = 1 tsp. lime zest)
  • 4 each garlic cloves roughly chopped
  • 1 small (2 to 3 lb.) kabocha squash (substitution = acorn buttercup, delicata, pumpkin)
  • 32 medium-sized clams fresh and alive
  • 32 medium-sized mussels fresh and alive
  • 1 1/2 lb fresh salmon
  • 1 lb shrimp
  • 2 tbsp coconut oil
  • 16 leaves thai basil hand torn (substitution = regular basil)
  • salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

  • First, in a small saucepan, add your coconut milk, galangal, lemongrass, lime leaves and garlic. Bring up to a slow simmer. Once it simmers, remove it from the heat and allow to sit and "steep" for 30 minutes. Stir, occasionally.
  • While the coconut milk steeps in the aromatics, soak your fresh clams and mussels in a bowl of cold water, with a slow, steady stream of cold water dropping from the faucet into the bowl. This helps remove a touch of extra saltiness and sand. Let this sit with the water dripping on it.
  • Prepare your pumpkin. I like to peel the outside, before I do anything, but this is totally unnecessary and a bit of a process (I use a knife and cut it off, like a cantaloupe). It is up to you. Next, cut it in half and scrape out the seeds with a spoon. Then, cut it into chunks about 1/2 to 3/4 of an inch, each. They should all be roughly the same size, so that they cook evenly. Set aside.
  • Pick your clams and mussels out of the bowl, by scooping them up with your hands, and transferring them to another bowl. Any sand or debris should be left at the bottom of the original bowl. Wash the original bowl and set aside. We'll use it one more time. Place the new bowl of clams and mussels under the slow stream of cold water.
  • Peel your shrimp and remove the big vein running through the back. (I left the peel on, because the shells were left in the clams and mussels, but this is up to you).
  • Cut your fish into bite sized pieces (use a good fresh fish. I used salmon, because it's everywhere in the Pacific North West, but just about any good fresh fish will do: halibut, sole, snapper, etc.).
  • Transfer your clams and mussels one more time. With a wet towel, pull the beards from the mussels. This is done by grabbing the beard with the towel and pinching hard between your fingers, then deliberately pulling OUT and towards the hinge. Some come out easier than others, but this should just about do it. You may also want to scrub the outside of your mussel shells, if there are a lot of funky little barnacles, debris and other riddles and games attached to them. Once your clams and mussels are clean and happy, pull them up and out of the bowl and place them on a dry towel, or in a colander to drip dry.
  • Strain your coconut milk mixture through a fine sieve, into a large soup pot, with a lid. Discard the fibrous leftbehinds. Place your coconut milk mixture on the stove. Bring it up to a very slow simmer.
  • Place a large sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add your oil to the pan and swirl it around. As soon as it ripples, add your kabocha to the pan and spread it out evenly over the bottom of the pan. You want to add a little bit of color to these little cubes. Season with a bit of salt and pepper. Saute these for about 5 minutes, until they get a bit of color and begin softening. Throw them into the coconut milk mixture.
  • Place a large sauté pan (probably the same pan) over medium-high heat. Add your oil to the pan and swirl it around. As soon as it ripples, add your fish and shrimp to the pan and season with a little salt and pepper. Make sure it's spread out and evenly distributed along the bottom of the pan. We want to add a little color to the fish.
  • While the fish and shrimp cook, add your clams and mussels to the coconut milk mixture and place the lid on top.
  • After about 2 minutes of the fish/shrimp sautéing and the clams/mussels simmering, remove the lid, add the fish/shrimp to the coconut milk and replace the lid.
  • Allow the entire mixture to continue simmering for about 4 to 5 more minutes. From the moment you started sautéing the kabocha, until the time you eat, only about 12 minutes should pass. It goes quickly, once it's all prepared and ready to go.
  • At the last moment, stir in your fresh basil and serve!

Nutrition

Serving: 8g | Calories: 481.87625kcal | Carbohydrates: 10.18375g | Protein: 44.03625g | Fat: 26.1775g | Fiber: 0.60625g