Trust us: Pure visual appeal alone is reason enough to prepare the next installment in our series of local holiday recipes. Since our education in the myriad uses of kabocha, we've been looking to use it any way we can, and for this red curry, it's æsthetically joined by Okinawan sweet potato, carrot, yellow bell pepper, Thai chili, generous amounts of Thai basil and basil flowers and (we think crucially) toasted pumpkin seeds.
At the table, adjacent to sticky rice (which always manages to defy tasteful presentation), the shades of orange and yellow are sharply contrasted with the deep purple of the sweet potato and the green of the basil. Texturally, there is a balance achieved between the comforting heaviness of pumpkin and sweet potato, offset by carrot and bell pepper, enlivened but also lightened by Thai red curry and made sweet by aromatic Thai basil, and topped with a surprisingly reasonable, crunchy addition that would've never occurred to us—pumpkin seeds.
This recipe appeals to us in so many different ways. It's autumnal and it would be perfect for persnickety, vegetarian Thanksgiving guests (like us, for instance). It's familiar comfort food, but it's also spicy and exotic. It's local and it's Thai and it's reminiscent of American Thanksgiving traditions, and we defy you to find another food that can claim all three of those descriptors.
What's more, we love this recipe because it's part of the answer to the question of the moment, to us at least: What to do with the bushel of kabocha that we have in our shed?
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© 2010 The Hawaiian Sybarite