Pumpkin and salmon might seem like a strange combination, but all doubts will leave your mind once you taste this curry. I first had this curry at Thai X-ing, an amazing DC restaurant, where it was one of a variety of courses on their set menu. While everything there was delicious, this dish in particular stood out and still comes to mind (I spend a lot of time thinking about food). The tender and sweet pumpkin melts into the spicy, creamy, curry sauce, thickening it, and the salmon adds another dimension of richness. This version captured my memory of the dish well and was far easier than I thought it would be to throw together. The most time-consuming part was chopping up the pumpkin (I think what I got was actually a kabocha squash, and it had a particular thick, knobbly skin) and prepping the salmon (it seems to be the trend around here to leave the bones in the fish when selling it). I’ve been eating this curry for just about every meal since I made it, served over quinoa (though rice will be just as good and more authentic), and I’m already planning for when I can make it again.
- 3/4 cup coconut cream*
- 1/4 cup Thai red curry paste
- 1 (3 – 4-lb) pumpkin, cut into 1-inch pieces**
- 3/4 cup coconut milk*
- 3 – 4 kaffir lime leaves (optional)***
- 2 red bell peppers, sliced
- 2 – 3 lbs salmon, cut into 1-inch pieces
- fish sauce, to taste
- palm sugar, to taste****
- lime juice, to taste (optional)
- 1 cup Thai basil leaves*****
*The coconut cream is the solid part that can be scooped from the top of a can of coconut milk – together, this should be about 1 (13.5 ounce) can.
**Any pumpkin-like squash will work – I think what I got was actually a kabocha squash, and butternut squash would also be just fine.
***I didn’t use these (can’t be found around here), but they’ll add extra authenticity. If you use them, the lime juice at the end will most likely be unnecessary.
****Or substitute brown sugar.
*****Regular basil is an okay (but not great) substitute – use about half as much.
- In a large pot over medium-high heat, combine 3/4 cup coconut cream and 1/4 cup Thai red curry paste, and sautee until the mixture thickens and oil starts to separate, about 10 minutes.
- Add 1 (3 – 4-lb) pumpkin, cut into 1-inch pieces, 3/4 cup coconut milk, enough water to cover, and 3 – 4 kaffir lime leaves, if using. Stir together.
- Bring to a boil, then lower heat, and let simmer until the pumpkin is starting to soften, about 5 – 10 minutes.
- Stir in 2 red bell peppers, sliced, and continue simmering until the pumpkin is just cooked through.
- Add 2 – 3 lbs salmon, cut into 1-inch pieces, and simmer until the fish is just cooked, about 3 – 5 minutes.
- Remove from heat, and season with fish sauce, to taste, palm sugar, to taste, and lime juice, to taste, if needed.
- Stir in 1 cup Thai basil leaves, and serve over rice or quinoa.