This red Thai curry with chicken and Kabocha squash recipe is an easy and healthy fall dish using Kobucha squash. This recipe is perfect for this time of year where pumpkins and squash are in season. Red Thai curry with chicken and Kabocha squash is quite simple and is delicious with a tinge of spiciness from the red curry paste. The extra creamy texture comes from the coconut milk and the Kabocha squash, creating just the perfect combination of a curry and stew dish.
Kabocha or Pumpkins?
Here’s a funny story for you. When I first came to America, I thought all pumpkins were kobucha squash. That was all I knew as “pumkins” when I was growing up in Thailand. My Thai family grew them in our garden and I’d watch my sister and mom cook with them using many different recipes including curries, desserts and even toasted the seeds for snacks. So when I came to America, imagine my surprise when I first went pumpkin picking and the pumpkins were...orange….I had no idea!
What is Kabocha Squash?
Today, I’m going to introduce you to a Thai dish that involves the kind of pumpkins I know, Kabocha squash. It has an external skin, much like our orange pumpkins, but the skin is edible when cooked. The meat of the Kabocha squash is bright deep yellow with a sweet and starchy taste. Once cooked, the meat turns silky and creamy, much like soft-boiled potatoes. The core and seeds are in the middle and do require that you scoop all that out and scrape the soft layer before getting to the meaty part of the Kabocha squash. You can strain out the seeds, wash, dry and then roast them on a stove top with a dash of salt for flavor. Roasted Kabocha seeds are great for snacking.
A Story About Kabocha
When I first heard the word “Kabocha” squash in English, I was a tiny bit confused as the word sounded so much like “Campuchia” Or Cambodia, a nearby country to Thailand. I speak a little bit of Khmer, a Cambodian language, so I thought the English word sounded so much like the name of the country. After some research, I came to find out that the Portuguese actually brought the squash from Europe. However, since they visited Cambodia first before arriving to Thailand with the squash, it was named Kabocha squash. Sounding an awful lot like “Campuchia”. This story makes complete sense for me since Thai food has strong influence from Portuguese cuisine.
Where Can you Find Kabocha Squash?
Kabocha squash can be readily found in Asian and American grocery stores. This year, I found mine at Trader Joes and at a great price too! They are more available and taste better in the fall because they are in season like all the other pumpkins and squash out there. During the off season I find mine at Asian markets. When picking out the squash, lift 2 pieces at once to see if one feels heavier than the other. Then pick the heavier one as a sign of freshness as the meat is still full and hasn’t yet dried out too much. Kabocha squash keep for a long time at room temperature.
Ingredients for Red Thai Curry with Chicken and Kabocha Squash:
This red Thai curry with chicken and Kabocha squash recipe calls for a few ingredients you can find at your local grocery store and some at the Asian Markets. Here’s a list for you to print out and bring with you to both places.
American/Western Grocery Store List:
1 large kobucha squash (3.5-4 lbs)
Chicken breast 1 lb
Shallots or sub purple onions
Vegetable oil (Not shown in picture above)
Asian Grocery Store List:
- Red curry paste MaePloy is what I used for this recipe.
- Fish Sauce Squid brand is what I used for this recipe.
- Shallots purple onions for substitute
- Kaffir lime leaves (Look in freezer section at the Asian market.)
- Thai Basil (Look in the fresh produce section at the Asian market.)
- Thai long red chilis, or red bell peppers if you prefer no heat
- Coconut milk
- Coconut cream
How to Cut Kabocha Squash?
Always wash your Kabocha well as we will use the skin in our cooking and it tastes great cooked.
- On a sturdy cutting board, place a firm grip on to the Kabocha with one hand.
- Cut to the side of the stem, firmly slice a knife into the squash.
- Cut the squash from top down from each side.
- The squash should crack open almost in half or thirds at this point.
- In the center of the squash are the bright yellow pulp and seeds.
- Cut the halve pieces again in half for ease of smaller pieces to deal with.
- Use a spoon to scrape out the pulp and seeds from each piece.
- Then again, scoop out the softer lining until you get to firm part of the squash meat. Discard interior parts on step 7 & 8.
- Carefully slice the squash into long but thick strips about 2 inches thick
- Cut all the remaining squash from step 9.
- Cubed the thick strips into about 2-2.5 inches thick pieces fro cooking.
- Put all the cubed squash into a bowl and measure out 2 lbs for this recipe.
That's it! If you have extra squash, save it for either a second round of this recipe using a different protein or boil it for about 10-12 minutes, sprinkle with a bit of salt & and eat it as a starchy side dish. I've also boiled, then puree it to sneak some in my kids Mac & Cheese! Gotta get all those nutrients in anywhere I can, right?
How to Make Red Thai Curry with Chicken and Kabocha Squash
(More detailed instructions in the recipe card at the bottom on the post.)
- Fry the garlic and shallot in oil in a dutch over over medium high heat. Fry until fragrant.
- Add the curry paste, break up the big chunks into small ones.
- Add coconut milk, stir it all in and continue breaking up the curry paste chunks
- Stir until you have a creamy orange sauce
- Bring everything to a boil then turn the heat down to medium.
- Add the chicken and the kabocha squash, mix well with the sauce.
- Stir everything together for 1 minute or so.
- Add coconut cream and water/stock.
- (If using water, add water to the opened coconut milk can, add water and swish together than pour into the dutch oven. stir it all in and cook for 10 minutes or until the kabocha squash is tender but not too soft.
- Add brown sugar, fish sauce, and chili peppers, and kaffir lime leaves, let it simmer for 5-7 more minutes. Taste the flavor of the curry, if too salty, add more sugar, if too sweet, add more fish sauce.
- Add the basil and mix in really well. Turn off the heat. Let the curry sit for about 5 minutes before serving.
- Serve over cooked Jasmine rice and garnish with more basil and kaffir lime leaves if desired.
- That's it! enjoy your delicious Red Thai Curry with Chicken and kabocha squash!
Red Thai curry with chicken and kabocha squash saves well as left-overs for 2-3 days. You can also freeze some in small containers if this serving size is too large for you. Just warm the frozen curry in a warm pot oven medium heat or microwave on high for 2-3 minutes before serving. Serve your red Thai curry with chicken with rice, or nan or just eat it plain with so sides. Curries are even more rich and creamy the next day, great as breakfast. I'm serious, try it!
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