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Peter Peter Pumpkin Eater!

blog plant-based ingredients Jun 01, 2016

— This articled appeared in the June, 2016 Bamboo Telegraph, Singapore

 

In America, when you see pumpkins at the store you know Halloween and Thanksgiving are right around the corner. For two months, pumpkins are all the rage – from spiced pumpkin lattes to traditional pumpkin pie. But then, in a blink, they are gone! Pumpkins can be found year round in Singapore. So, if you like pumpkins, you are in luck!

Mix up your repertoire of recipes by using different varieties of pumpkin in interesting flavour combinations.

Pumpkins are a nutrient dense food and low in calories. They are full of vital antioxidants and vitamins. Pumpkins are one of the best sources of vitamin A. They are also high in vitamin C and E, and minerals such as copper and calcium. Pumpkin seeds are an excellent source of dietary fiber and protein. Pumpkins are perfect for those trying to lose weight as they are filling, low in calories and high in nutrition.

One variety to try is Japanese pumpkins, also called Kabocha squash (pronounced ka-boo-cha). Commonly found in Singapore, most markets will sell ¼ cuts, sufficient for a meal or two. This squash is shaped like a pumpkin with a green skin and yellow/orange flesh. It is naturally sweet in taste and even the skin is edible when cooked. Like traditional pumpkins, the seeds are also great roasted. In some cultures these are considered an aphrodisiac!

Looking for some inspiration? Try pumpkin in a stir fry or soup. Make pumpkin soup with coconut milk and Thai seasoning instead of traditional ingredients. Don’t forget to add some chilli for an authentic Thai kick. You will create a new flavor profile and a delicious alternative that can be enjoyed year round. Add roasted pumpkin to salads, or add diced pumpkin to pilafs and chili for extra flavor and nutrition. Pumpkin also makes a nice addition to spring rolls (fresh or fried) and dumplings.

Traditional spices for pumpkin include brown sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg. Asian pairings include chilli sauce, ginger, soy sauce, tomatoes, onions and lentils. Dukkah, an Egyptian spice blend, is also quite good sprinkled on top of roasted pumpkin. (This can be sourced at both Cold Storage and Market Place.)

Did you know that pumpkin leaves and shoots can also be eaten? Popular in Vietnamese cuisine, the leaves and shoots are stir fried with garlic and served as a side dish. While laborious to prepare, they are delicious to eat! You must select only the small leaves and the shoots must be trimmed. The prickly part must be cut away; the tender inside shoot is the edible piece. The prickly part of the stem is not edible.

Throughout Asia, pumpkins are used in both savory and sweet dishes. From curries in Indian cuisine, to tempura in Japanese cuisine, to candied desserts in Burmese cuisine, to the leaves and shoots in Vietnamese cuisine, pumpkins are part of the Asian food scene. Learn some new ways to prepare your favorite foods using local ingredients. It is a great way to enjoy Singapore culture!

Bon Appitét!

 

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