New Use for Thanksgiving Pumpkin

In our household Thanksgiving dinner is a sacred tradition. My partner Warren insists that we only serve his mother’s New England Thanksgiving dinner. For years I’ve not strayed from her traditional menu, which includes roast turkey with oyster stuffing, orange cranberry sauce, homemade pickles, creamed peas and onions, mashed Butternut squash and turnip, and mashed potato. For dessert we routinely serve apple and pumpkin pie. At the end of the meal there’s usually rarely any apple pie left but plenty of pumpkin pie. And there’s always uncooked pumpkin left from making the pie. This year I decided to use it to make a very traditional Chinese stir-fry.

Most of my American friends are usually surprised when I use pumpkin in Chinese cooking. Originally introduced from South America pumpkin is now a very common ingredient in China. It is used to make soup, stew, sweet dishes, and of course stir-fry dishes. Two months ago I served steamed glutinous rice with bacalao and pumpkin at a dinner. When I created this recipe I was expecting my guests to comment on the unusual selection of bacalao not the unlikely response that they didn’t think pumpkin was a Chinese ingredient.

True to its Chinese name of “Southern squash” (南瓜) the pumpkins are most commonly found in Southern Chinese cooking. Guangdong and Fujian in particular produce pumpkins in abundance, and their regional cooking reflects affection for this squash. There are many varieties of Asian hybrid pumpkins but only one, the Kabocha pumpkin, is commonly found in America. In China one can find papaya shaped pumpkins or smooth green round pumpkins with a net pattern. None of them have any English names that I know of.

Today’s recipe for pumpkin is a very common Fujianese home-cooked dish known as Stir-Fried Pumpkin with Dried Shrimp (海米炒南瓜). The pungent shrimp flavor beautifully contrasts with the sweet mild pumpkin taste. But best of all I can use up the pumpkin leftover from Thanksgiving.

  • Stir-Fried Pumpkin with Dried Shrimp (海米炒南瓜)

    • Preparation time: 15 minutes
    • Rapid cooking time: 15 minutes
    • 12 oz. pumpkin
    • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
    • 1/4 cup dried shrimp reconstituted in 1/2 cup hot water
    • 1/4 cup Shaoxing cooking wine
    • 1 tablespoon finely shredded ginger
    • 1/2 teaspoon salt
    • 1 teaspoon sugar
    • 1/2 cup chopped scallion for garnish
    • Use Kabocha pumpkin if you can find it. Peel and cut up the pumpkin into about 3/4 inch cubes. Reconstitute the dried shrimp in the hot water and let stand for about 20 minutes. Drain the shrimp and set the liquid aside for later use.
    • Heat the vegetable oil in a wok until just about at the smoking point. Put the ginger and shrimp in the wok and stir-fry for about 2 minutes. Then add the pumpkin pieces, salt, sugar, cooking wine and the liquid from reconstituting the shrimp. Cover the wok and cook at medium heat for about 5 minutes. Test doneness of the pumpkin by poking with a fork. It should be soft but not mushy. Add a little extra water and continue to cook covered if not done.
    • Remove the wok from heat and add the chopped scallion. Stir the pumpkin slightly, then plate and serve immediately.
This entry was posted in Dry Wok Stir-fry (煸炒), Recipes, Techniques, Vegetables. Bookmark the permalink. Post a comment or leave a trackback: Trackback URL.

12 Comments

  1. Posted November 30, 2008 at 11:48 pm | Permalink

    Looks great Kian. I grew up eating pumpkin in asian food so I guess I don’t see anything wrong with using it Chinese food. My parents came out from CA for Thanksgiving and we’re usually a very traditional family, but I went for something a little different this year too.

  2. Posted December 1, 2008 at 3:37 am | Permalink

    The stir fried pumpkins served in most places here are all mushy, which actually turned me off it. But looking at how you prepared it, I think it probably tastes better than those mushy ones I’ve tried. Adding those dried shrimps would definitely give it added flavour!

  3. Posted December 1, 2008 at 5:00 pm | Permalink

    Hey, we’ve never had this. To think, we’re supposed to be Fujian!

  4. Posted December 3, 2008 at 4:20 am | Permalink

    my first pumpkin pie disappeared so fast I cranked out a second one for our leftovers day!

    with leftover pie crust, I made pot pie.

    funny how people are so sticky about tradition on this day, hm? I’ve got to post on the food…hope yours was great.

    is that pumpkin like what we call Kabocha? love those.

  5. Posted December 3, 2008 at 8:08 am | Permalink

    Kian–this looks fabulous! I’ve never heard of oyster stuffing . . . I think I need to expand my Thanksgiving menu. :)

  6. Posted December 3, 2008 at 10:50 pm | Permalink

    Foong, If you don’t like mushy pumpkin I have another way of making it by only stir-frying for a very short period. The result is that the pumpkin is still crispy and taste differently from what you’d expect.

    _ts, We regularly have this dish at home. One of my favorites actually.

    Jacqueline, Yes, I like to use Kabocha pumpkins. They are sweeter and less fibrous.

    Chou, Oyster stuffing is very “New England.” It is really delicious. We only use enough oyster to moisten and give just enough depth to the stuffing. It doesn’t taste like oyster at all. Everyone in our family LOVES this stuffing.

  7. Posted December 6, 2008 at 9:34 am | Permalink

    Great blog. I am so sad I have used all my fresh pumpkin. I wonder if a butternut squash would work….

  8. rfb
    Posted February 7, 2010 at 5:18 am | Permalink

    Hi Kian,

    I enjoy reading your blog and re-discovering many dishes from my childhood. I was astonished by this recipe as the pumpkin is actually cooked, not stir-fried, and yet you classify it as a dry stir-fry – why?

    Also, you mentioned above that there is a way to stir-fry the pumpkin for a very short period – how would you do that precisely, would you add the pumpkin and omit the Shaoxing cooking wine and the liquid from the shrimps?

    • Posted February 7, 2010 at 9:43 am | Permalink

      Hi rfb,

      Thank you so much for visiting Red Cook. I’m glad you enjoy my recipes.

      This is classified as dry stir-fry because the technique used. It is based on classic stir-fry technique, where the pumpkin is cooked within the short period of time. It is also a dry stir-fry because there is no sauce resulted in the end, unlike the stir-fry mixed vegetable in the pumpkin bowl.

      The crispy stir-fry I mentioned above is cooked at very high heat for just about 30 seconds. The pumpkin is cut into matchstick size and no dried shrimp is used. I plan to post this recipe soon.

  9. rfb
    Posted February 7, 2010 at 3:04 pm | Permalink

    Hi Kian,

    thank you for your quick reply. I posted a review on Cookbooker. And I’m curious to see your next posts..

    • Posted February 8, 2010 at 7:09 am | Permalink

      Thank you for the review on Cookbooker. I really appreciate the thumbs up. Do try other recipes and let me know if you have any question.

  10. annie
    Posted July 21, 2011 at 8:59 am | Permalink

    This was fabulous! I’m in Taiwan and loved finding this great recipe to use the pumpkin from the Farmer’s Market. Will definitely be making this a lot. Thank you!

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