Thai people do have a sweet tooth to balance our love for spicy and strong tasting food, and so it is no surprise that many Thai desserts are quite sweet just like this dessert made with pumpkin and coconut milk which is known as Kaeng Buat Fak Tong in Thai.
We also like to use ingredients that are commonplace, mostly because they are cheaper and the fun is all in making cheaper ingredients taste amazing.
Thai folk also associate sweet desserts with richness and wealth and they are a popular draw in the markets, and not just for the children.
Pumpkins are actually a fruit but more often referred to as a vegetable and quite a cheap one at that. I think they are very under-rated and less used than they deserve because they are rich in potassium which helps the heart, have some vitamin C which helps boost the immune system and are quite fibrous which is good for your intestines and bowels.
The type of pumpkin most commonly encountered in Thailand is the thick, rough-skinned sort which you can find in every local market and sold, cut to recipe sized portions. They have greenish-grey outer skin and orange tinted flesh and of course seeds.
Pumpkin flesh is, most-often, partially cut off and the seeds and softest flesh near the seeds is cut away. The idea is to have firm fruit (or vegetable if you prefer) to eat in preference to a mushy consistency like overcooked vegetables.
Red Lime Paste is a chalky paste made from baked ground shells which is mixed with water to make slaked lime which is used to harden the outer surface of the sliced up pumpkin slightly to give it a pleasing texture with a bit of bite. It is an edible paste that you can buy online.
Once the pumpkin is ready it is cooked briefly in coconut milk with added sugar which provides sweetness as well as taste and coordinates wonderfully with the pumpkin for a cheap and unusual dessert – unless you are Thai in which case it won't be unusual at all!!
I like to leave a little of the outside skin on the pumpkin for texture – it is perfectly edible is fiber rich – as you can see in my video below. It also adds some depth and color to your presentation at the table.
The result will be a light and tasty sweet dessert with a little richness from the coconut milk and pleasing to the eye from the orange pumpkin, fragments of green-grey skin and milky coconut milk.
If you are going to make this dessert then you should stick to the type of pumpkin shown as it does not substitute so well with other squashes that have thinner, smoother skins like butternut or regular squash.
Pumpkins are not just for Halloween!
Pumpkin In Creamy Coconut Milk
- Stir red lime paste in water, mix leave it to settle out.
- Cut away most of the skin, remove seeds, and cut middle soft flesh near the seeds away.
- Slice pumpkin into 1 cm fingers and then rinse off.
- When the red lime paste has settled out, add to just cover the pumpkin and leave for 40 mins or 1 hr depending on how crunchy you like the texture of the pumpkin.
- Heat coconut milk and mix in the coconut sugar (or brown sugar) until it just starts to boil and then reduce heat. Leave it to simmer a bit to let the sugar completely dissolve into the coconut milk.
- Add the pumpkin fingers and stir and then cover with a lid for 5 mins without changing the heat. The cover will increase the temperature and the coconut milk will start to bubble. At that point take the lid off and simmer for 10-15 mins, stirring occasionally,
- Taste test and add in as much of the set aside 1/2 cup of coconut milk to make it more creamy to your liking and serve.
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