Dish that matches fall colors: Gillian’s Happy Curry
Editor’s note: Atherton resident Gillian Bostock is not only a talented, serious-amateur chef, she’s also an accomplished photographer. This is the first of her occasional recipes for the fall season.
Kabocha is a particularly delicious variety of squash and has an infallible way of curling your mouth into a smile. Its friendly plump shape is about as sweet as a baby’s dimpled cheeks and one that encourages overstocking. I think you’ll agree with me when I say a multitude of gourds simply looks better than one lonely one. Picture many Kabochas, congregating on your front step or kitchen counter. Doesn’t that just give you a warm fuzzy feeling like a big angora sweater?
It should also be noted that once the poor thing has been cut open, the bright juxtaposition of orange flesh and green speckled skin is delightfully evocative of Halloween. When mixed with coconut milk and an assortment of spices, it makes the perfect comfort food for a chilly autumn day. I like to add chicken for a bit of extra protein but this recipe can easily be converted to vegetarian, substituting vegetable stock for the chicken stock and leaving out the chicken, of course, altogether. Personally, chicken makes me happy so it’s going in my Happy Curry.
Enjoy over a nice big pile of sticky Jasmine rice and with a generous sprinkle of chopped cilantro on top. The herb will add a sharp peppery freshness to everything and is a vital contrast to the smooth sweet curry underneath. (Ingredients and recipes follow below the photo of the finished dish.)
– 1 Kabocha squash, small (and perhaps one more to befriend the Jack-O-Lantern on your front step)
– 1 can of coconut milk
– 2 chicken breasts, cut into cubes
– 2 tablespoons sunflower oil
– 2 shallots
– 1 garlic clove, smashed
– 1 tbsp ginger, minced
– 1 Serrano pepper, minced
– ½ tsp cumin
– ½ tsp coriander, ground
– ½ tsp asafetida
– 1 tbsp hot curry powder
– 2 cups chicken stock
– 1 cup water (or enough to cover the rest of the squash pieces in the pot)
2 stocks lemongrass, cleaned and chopped into 2-3 inch pieces
salt and pepper
2 tbsp Thai fish sauce
1 lime, juice and zest
1. Clean the outside of the Kabocha squash. Cut in half, remove seeds, and use a spoon to scrap the inside clean. Do not remove the green skin! Cut squash into 1-inch cubes (approximately) and set aside in a large bowl.
2. Mince two shallots. Smash the garlic. Chop the fresh ginger and Serrano pepper into tiny little bits. Set aside.
3. Heat oil in a large pot and sauté shallots for a few minutes until translucent. Add ginger, garlic, and Serrano pepper. Sauté for a few minutes more. Add spices. Stir. (If you don’t have all the spices, or have others you want to try, feel free to mix and match here. Curry powder, however, is a must.)
4. Add the squash and chicken stock. If the stock doesn’t cover the squash pieces, add water until they are all just about covered. Add lemongrass pieces. Season with salt and pepper. Simmer for 20 minutes.
5. Add coconut milk, chicken pieces, fish sauce, and the juice and zest of one lime. Simmer for at least 10 more minutes or until the chicken is done.
6. Remove lemongrass pieces or tell your dining companions to do so from their own servings. They are not supposed to be eaten!
7. Serve with sticky jasmine rice. Sprinkle a generous amount of fresh chopped cilantro on top. If there are any leftovers, I like to have this curry as a soup for the lunch the next day (or the day after).