keito potato

Thai Pumpkin with Tofu and Basil
September 30, 2009, 7:18 pm
Filed under: main dishes, recipes | Tags: , , ,

Thair stir-fried pumpkin
Southern California finally got a hint of fall this week, right at the tail end of September. I can actually wear a cardigan in the evenings now. I bought a butternut squash to celebrate the change of seasons, and used a fabulous recipe that my sister Deb pointed me to last winter. It’s an elegant and unusual stir-fry from my favorite Thai cookbook, True Thai by Victor Sodsook. Slices of pumpkin are stir-fried with tofu, basil, and an insane amount of garlic.

Now that the weather is cooling off, I imagine I will make this on a regular basis. It’s a cinch to assemble, and I love making my house smell like garlic.

The recipe calls for kabocha pumpkin, but I used butternut squash since that’s what my grocery had in stock today. I might get in trouble for saying this, but I think many winter squashes and pumpkins can be used interchangeably in most dishes.

For this recipe you will need to obtain a bottle of “crushed yellow bean sauce.” It’s an earthy and delicious fermented bean sauce that reminds me of the black bean paste used in Sichuanese tofu dishes like mapo tofu. You can easily find this sauce in an Asian grocery. My “Healthy Boy Brand” bottle has a funny baby on the label.
Healthy Boy Brand yellow bean sauce


1 pound kabocha pumpkin or butternut squash
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
10 cloves garlic, crushed
2 tablespoons crushed yellow bean sauce (tao jiew dam)
2 1/2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon white pepper
3 tablespoons vegetable stock
19 ounces firm tofu, cut into bite-size pieces
3/4 cup loosely packed Thai basil or Italian basil


Scoop out and discard the seeds and fibers from the pumpkin or squash. With a sharp, heavy knife or cleaver, chop it into quarters. Cut off most of the peel and slice the pumpkin into thin, bite-size pieces.

Place all stir-fry ingredients within easy reach of the cooking area.

Set a wok over medium-high heat. (If you don’t have a wok, a wide skillet will do). When it is quite hot, add the oil. Rotate the wok a bit so the oil coats the sides. When the oil is hot, add the garlic and stir-fry briefly, just until golden and aromatic. Add the pumpkin and stir-fry for 3 minutes.

Add the yellow bean sauce and brown sugar, and stir-fry until blended, about 1 minute. Add the white pepper and vegetable stock and stir-fry for 30 seconds. Add the tofu and stir-fry until it is heated through, about 1 1/2 minutes.

Turn off the heat. Stir in the basil and cook for a few seconds, just until the basil begins to wilt.

Transfer to a serving platter and serve with steamed rice and chile sauce.

3 Comments so far
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I was a guest at Kate’s table when she served this dish, redolent of golden garlic, piqued with the pungency of fresh basil on a succulent floor of butternut squash with the firm tofu providing a counterpoint of freshness and contrast. It is on the must cook soon again list.

Comment by David Augsburger

WOW KATE I CANNOT WAIT TO TRY THIS!! i’ll probably have to wait for the motherland tho, because i’m not sure about that yellow bean sauce here in leb =/ looks amazinggggggggg

Comment by annieinisrael

So unbelievably simple and delicious, KP! I couldn’t have christened my new wok with anything better. My observations: The kabucha pumpkin was a total pain to dice, but oh so worth it. Loved the denser texture (when compared to butternut) and delicate pumpkin flavor. I used a whole bag of purple-stemmed Thai Basil as well — no need to measure something that fragrant and wonderful. Finally, I couldn’t help but add a couple dashes of Nama Shoyu on top(Keith says he’s buying me a salt lick for my next birthday). It was a big success, as is always the case with your recipes. Thanks doll!

Comment by Alana Zerbe

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