Wednesday, 12 October 2011

Simmered Kabocha Squash with Dried Shrimps

The best part about autumn– other than the excuse to snuggle up in warm sweaters with embarrassing prints– is pumpkin and its many other squash friends. I love how they look and all their cute names: butternut squash, crown prince squash, munchkin (aw, sigh!), kabocha squash. They all taste similar to the normal pumpkin, but with slightly different textures and sweetness.

The kabocha squash is a dull green on the outside, but has a super bright orange-yellow flesh. It's got a really strong sweet flavour, and a fluffy texture in between that of a pumpkin and sweet potato, so it's ideal for this slow-simmered recipe. It's adapted from my mum's recipe i.e. it's really good but also i.e. the proportions are heavily estimated.

Simmered Kabocha Squash with Dried Shrimps
serves 2-4
1 small kabocha squash (slightly less than 1 kg), peeled and chopped into bite-sized chunks
1/4 cup of dried shrimps 
8 cloves of garlic, chopped finely
unrefined sea salt
1 tbsp groundnut oil + 1 tbsp butter from happy cows

1. Soak the dried shrimps in about a 1/2 cup of warm water for 15 minutes before cooking. Drain and reserve the soaking liquid; it will be the stock used for simmering later.
2. Over medium high heat, add the oil and butter. When foaming, saute the garlic and dried shrimps till fragrant, then add the chopped squash. Add salt, cook till slightly caramelised around the edges.
3. Add the shrimp stock, bring to a boil, lower heat, cover, and let simmer for about 15 minutes, or till squash is just tender.
4. Increase heat and let the cooking liquid reduce till it's kind of dry and even sticking to the pan a little. 

This looks really plain, perhaps even ugly, but it's delicious. I was sorely tempted to add a few sprinkles of chopped spring onion to make this look less ugly, but really, you don't need anything on this.

All the garlicky, salty, shrimpy flavour is concentrated and absorbed by the sweet kabocha squash. The edges are just coming apart and the inside is tender. Though not much to look at, the mushy bits of mashed up, slightly burnt shrimp and garlic is the best part. I love this with congee, its mild watery sweetness a perfect match to the salty candied starchiness of the squash, but have it whichever way you want, even just as is. 

If you use pumpkin, add a pinch of brown sugar. You can probably use other squashes too, but taste and adjust sugar levels accordingly.
The tablespoon of butter is my own touch– because browned butter makes the world go round. You can just use an extra tbsp of oil, or if good ol' (school) lard. 


  1. Yes, I like to cook this too and pumpkin is so versatile.

  2. How delicious - I don't cook much with pumpkin or squash - I guess it's something I need to be in the mood for as I find the sweetness a little off-putting sometimes, though I love it when I do use it. Love that photo of all those squashes - wish I could find those here. It's curious as well, how the squash you use is called kabocha. In Japanese I *think* kabocha actually means pumpkin (or maybe that's just a generic word for squash-type things?) - strange how languages and names change.

  3. wow...excellent clik
    sounds scrumptiously tasty..;)
    Tasty Appetite

  4. I really have problems with squash and pumpkin unless it's really hot and spicy (I find it too sweet for savoury dishes and too bland for sweet dishes...), but I have never tasted kabocha. I am happy to see it exists in Europe, maybe I can find it in Switzerland or France and change my mind about pumpkins & co. ;-)
    Your dish looks simple and delicious (even for someone who doesn't like pumpkins), but I wonder what evoo might be...

  5. You are one of the most charming bloggers out there.

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  7. Hi, thanks for visiting my blog. I like this dish, looks extremely good. Have a nice weekend.

  8. Looks great. You always do such interesting recipes. I would have never thought to add dried shrimp to squash but now that you suggest it, it sounds like a delicious combo.

  9. cheah: it's one of those simple homecooked wonders (:

    charles: wow really interesting to hear about that, thanks for sharing! I don't have much of a sweet tooth, but I somehow have a weakness for pumpking, esp when it's used in a savoury dish.

    jay: thanks!

    sissi: evoo is just extra virgin olive oil ;)

    stephen: congrats!!!!! it's finally out!! I will be sure to write about it on my next post!! (:

    foodie: I'm honoured, I'll definitely check it out soon.

    amelia: it was great visiting yours (:

    frances: thanks, yes do try!

  10. This sounds like a great recipe to use dried shrimp with apart from having it in Asian recipes. I love pumpkin, especially when it's roasted with some herbs and drizzled with more EVOO! Thanks for sharing.

  11. I'm loving your kabocha recipes- it's my favorite winter squash, and one that I have plenty of! :)

  12. This is such an interesting idea...I would never have thought to pair squash with dried shrimp but can imagine the flavours really work. What a lovely autumnal recipe.

  13. I love this wonderful dish, so delicious!

  14. i love this recipe! so simple but utterly full of flavour. hey i'd love to check out the markets in london one day because there's quite a few produce youve used in your recipes that ive never seen before. really interesting! =D

  15. I've never cooked with dried shrimp, but it looks delicious. Thanks for visiting Real Foods Matter.

  16. This sounds totally moreish. I can picture how the flavours would work. Yum!

  17. Thank you! I thought it was a mysterious Asian ingredient ;-)

  18. dear,
    thanks for stopping by..! can cook biryani in a rice cooker too..
    it will turn out great. If in case yoghurt is not available , you can add 2 tbsp of fresh lemon juice too.
    giv a try n enjoy..!

    Tasty Appetite

  19. I love kabocha and I am always looking for recipe...looks delicious with the dried shrimps.
    Hope you are having a fantastic week Shuhan :-)

  20. I'd never heard of dried shrimp. That is so interesting. I can't really imagine a shrimp flavor without actually eating shrimp. I need to try making something like this, so I can taste it.

  21. Tried this last night, with pumpkin cos that's more common than squash in the supermarket here, it rocks! I minced the dried shrimp so that it's easier for my little one to chew :) very yummy :) Thanks!

    1. Thanks so much!! My mum minces it partly too! I love love love this! All squashes/pumpkin are alright to use as long as it's sweet and you liek it ;)