Kabocha Braised with Coconut Milk-Bí Đỏ Hầm Dừa

Vietnamese food

In Vietnam, we use chopsticks to eat this soup as other soup with cooked rice in a family meal.  The soup is brought to the table in a big serving bowl with a spoon and everyone use that spoon to transfer soup to their own bowl over rice and use chopsticks but not spoon to eat it except very young kids.

Kabocha squash is my favorite but any orange flesh squash can be used as butternut, hubbard, pumpkin, ambercup, acorn, etc.   Thick skin is easy to peel by chopped it first into two halves first remove and discard the seeds, then cut it into small cube (1/2-1 inch).   Put each cube with the skin on the side and use a sharp, sturdy knife slice the skin  off.  If you have a good vegetable peeler, cut the squash into slices and peel the skin off with peeler.
Canned coconut milk is cheaper at Oriental stores.  In Vietnam, we make our own coconut milk by mix fresh grated coconut with warm water and squeeze the water out with our hand or a piece of cloth.  Add more water a little bit at a time.  The thinner coconut milk is added and cooked along with the squash.   First pressed, thick, concentrated coconut milk will be saved and added to the soup at the end because coconut milk will lose its creamy, silky texture, flavor and  becomes coconut oil if it is cooked too long but the canned coconut milk seems very stable even adding it to the squash right at the beginning.
We eat this soup with cooked rice in a multiple course meal.  If you want to enjoy it like soup, reduce saltiness.
More water is needed if you want a thinner soup or make more servings.

If you want to use broth instead of water, save salt for taste after pumpkin is cooked.

Make 6-8 servings in a multiple-course meal

1 medium kabocha squash about 3 lb.
1 canned coconut milk (14 ounces)
3-3.5 cups  of water
2 green onion, cut into 1 inch length
1 tsp salt plus extra for taste
2 tsp fish sauce (omit or replace with light soy sauce if making it as vegan) plus extra for taste
2 tsp sugar
1/4 tsp ground black pepper

Method #1:
Add cut, peeled squash cubes in a medium sauce pan.  Add coconut milk first, then add water  to cover the squash.  Add salt, 1 tsp sugar.  Bring it to a boil  and reduce the heat down to simmer, cover.  Simmer until squash is tender about 15 minutes.  Add fish sauce and stir gently, taste and add the remaining sugar if needed for sweetness.   Replace fish sauce with salt or light soy sauce if making it as vegan dish.  Sprinkle green onion and black pepper.  Serve warm with cooked rice.

Method #2:
The same ingredients as above plus 1 Tbs vegetable oil and 1 small chopped yellow onion or 2 asian shallots
Heating 1 Tbs vegetable oil in a medium sauce pan over medium high heat.  Add onion, stir until fragrant. Stir in squash until having some golden brown spot.  Add coconut milk, water, cover and cook as method #1.

Method #3:
Save one half can  of coconut milk and add to the soup after the squash is tender and bring it briefly to a boil.  Then remove from heat.



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