Getting a HUGE banana squash from my Mom's neighbor was great, but now I have to figure out what to do with it. I used part of it for the carbonada, but what about the rest? Ah! Why not a squash in coconut milk recipe from Thailand?
Normally this recipe is made with butternut squash, but I think any hardy winter squash will do. The squash marries wonderfully with the coconut flavors. It's wonderfully sweet with a slight spicy kick and was a big hit with my family. Except for the Princess. She's five. She still won't eat much more than plain rice, peanut butter sandwiches, and cheese.
Oh, and candy. Lot's of candy. When we let her, and sometimes when we don't. Oddly, she also likes oatmeal, as long as it's smothered in peanut butter.
Let's do squash and coconut today, though.
Large saucepan or Dutch oven
Measuring cups and spoons
1/3 cup sweetened coconut flakes
2 pounds winter squash (such as butternut)
2 teaspoons vegetable oil
1/2 onion, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup unsweetened coconut milk OR 1 cup water plus 1 teaspoon coconut extract (not as good)
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 tablespoon fish sauce
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes (less if you have young children, or other sensitive mouths to feed)
1 tablespoon chopped parsley, or 1/2 teaspoon dried parsley (cilantro works great, too)
pinch of salt
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Spread the coconut flakes out in a single layer on a baking sheet. Bake for 6 minutes, stirring occasionally, until golden and toasty. Set aside to cool.
Cut of the stem of the squash and peel, removing the hard outer bits. Cut in half and remove the seeds and stringy bits. Cut into 1 to 2 inch pieces.
Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the onion and a pinch of salt, cooking and stirring until it starts to soften. Add the garlic and cook for one more minute, or until the onion is completely tender. Add the coconut milk, brown sugar, fish sauce and red pepper flakes. Stir until sugar is dissolved.
Bring the mixture to a boil. Add the squash and reduce the heat to medium low. Cover and simmer for about 20 to 30 minutes, or until the squash is fork-tender. Remove the squash from the saucepan using a slotted spoon and transfer to a serving dish.
Return the heat to high, bringing the remaining liquid to a boil, stirring constantly until thickened. If you use water instead of coconut milk, it won't thicken. You'll want to remove a small portion of the liquid, mix in a scant teaspoon of corn starch and return the cornstarch mixture to the pan to thicken.
Pour the thickened liquid over the squash in the serving bowl. Sprinkle with the toasted coconut and chopped parsley.
Makes 4 to 6 servings.
If you can find it at your local market, purple kale, along with a cilantro or parsley leaf, makes a pretty garnish for this dish. I like serving it with peanut butter pasta.