Tuesday, November 30, 2010 Leave a Comment
Welcome to the last day of Vegan MoFo 2010! It is also Milwaukee’s first day of snow. It is also new “One Tree Hill” night, YES. (Spoiler alert: a monster truck runs over a wedding cake made of corn cobs in the first sequence. That is for real. Also this.*) I’m looking forward to catching up on everyone’s blogs, which have been languishing in my Google Reader for a couple of weeks. Get ready for some random late commenting, y’all. I’m about to be wintered into my house for six months.
Recently, I picked up a carnival squash — a type of acorn squash — at the local farmers market. It was too cute and colorful to deny. So when B. said that Thai food sounded good for dinner tonight, I thought I’d try to make a dish I hear everyone rave about that I’ve never tried: squash curry. I’ve never cooked or eaten any kind of squash before, so this was something of a challenge!
The first thing I can report is that the inside of a carnival squash smells like a wet dog. The scent is warm and alive and kind of sodden, which I guess might be a good thing to some people, but not people who don’t like the smell of wet dog. As I recently discovered, the inside of pumpkin still just smells like Halloween, totally innocuous.
The second thing I can report is that peeling an acorn squash is basically the worst kitchen task ever, and you should reassign it to someone else. Sure, I hate zesting citrus, scrubbing potatoes, and chopping broccoli (all those little nubs! :twitch:), but these mundane tasks are dwarfed by the quarter-hour of pain and frustration I experienced trying to remove the peel from half of an acorn squash. With an eight-inch chef’s knife. I would strongly recommend against EVER peeling acorn squash if you, like me, suffer from the degree of carpal tunnel syndrome that leaves your hands wrenched into claws after you take ten minutes to write your
rent mortgage check. I had to take a break halfway through peeling the squash. Don’t hate.
CARNIVAL SQUASH, TOFU & GREEN BEAN THAI CURRY
» 2 tbsp canola oil, divided
» 1/2 lb yellow or extra-firm pressed tofu, cut into strips
» 1/2 acorn squash, seeded & peeled (about 2 c)
» 1 c green beans, trimmed
» 1 tbsp red curry paste
» 2-3 kaffir lime leaves (optional)
» 2 cloves garlic, minced
» 1 tbsp ginger, minced
» 1 can coconut milk
» 1 tsp brown sugar, packed
» 2 tbsp vegetarian fish sauce or soy sauce
» 1-2 tsp Golden Mountain sauce (optional)
» 1 tbsp lime juice
» garnishes: lime slices, chopped cilantro, chopped peanuts, toasted cashews
Chop squash into 3/4-inch cubes. Half of a carnival squash yielded me 2 cups, chopped.
Heat 1 tbsp vegetable oil over medium heat and fry tofu until golden brown, about 4-5 minutes each side. Set tofu aside on paper towels to drain.
In a tall frying pan, heat remaining vegetable oil over medium heat, add red curry paste, and fry for 3-4 minutes.
Add garlic and kaffir lime leaves. Fry for about 30 seconds.
Add coconut milk, brown sugar, and vegetarian fish sauce/soy sauce. Whisk or stir to combine well, and bring mixture to a boil. Scrape down the bottom and sides of the pan to get all the good stuff.
Add squash and mix to ensure that it’s covered with sauce. Reduce heat to medium-low.
Simmer for 20 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes or so.
Add tofu and green beans. Simmer for another 15 minutes, until squash is tender and green beans are cooked through. Stir in lime juice about a minute before serving.
Top with garnishes, if desired. Serve over jasmine rice.
The third thing and final thing I can report about cooking with carnival squash is that curried carnival squash tasted just like… curry. It had the approximate texture of a potato and next to no discernible taste beneath the delicious flaming hot sauce. I guess that’s a good thing!
I’ll be using the other half of the squash in another type of cuisine later this week in hopes of bringing out some of the flavor. See you then, and viva MoFo!