I was fortunate enough to have holidayed in Thailand early in 2020, right before the pandemic hit. It may well be the last overseas holiday I get to have in a very long time. I have always enjoyed Thai cuisine, and it’s complex balance of sour, sweet, bitter, salty, and spicy flavours. Unfortunately, our understanding of a particular cuisine at home is often driven by what is generally offered in local restaurants that have adapted recipes to our Westernised pallets. One of my greatest joys in travel is eating authentic cuisine that has not been tampered with to please another culture’s taste. Every dish I thought I knew suddenly seems monochrome by comparison to the real deal!
We can think of so many ingredients that we see as synonymous with Thai food; chilli, coriander, kaffir lime, but for me, the taste of authenticity is galangal! Galangal has a citrusy, sharp, and somewhat earthy woody undertone. Similar to ginger, galangal’s edible parts are its knobbly, orange-brown rhizomes. There was a time that fresh galangal was hard to find, and I’d have to take a hike to Victoria Market if I wanted some, and I’d freeze what I didn’t use for later. Fortunately, it’s a little more accessible these days, and I only have to nick up to the local Supermarket when I want fresh galangal.
Although pumpkin certainly isn’t a traditional Thai ingredient, it pairs wonderfully with so many different ingredients we would expect to find in Thai cooking. So why not try a Thai-style Pumpkin Soup? I hope my Thai friends approve.
Thai-style Pumpkin Soup
- 1 kg Butternut pumpkin
- 2 brown onion
- 2 cloves of garlic
- 3 tbls vegetable oil
- 100g Thai red curry paste
- 2 tbls fresh ginger, grated
- 2 tbls fresh galangal, grated
- 1 tbls lemongrass paste
- 2 cups chicken stock
- 1 lime, juiced
- 400ml coconut milk
1. Add sliced onions, minced garlic, and vegetable oil to stockpot, sweat until translucent.
2. Add red curry paste, grated ginger, grated galangal and lemongrass paste, combine.
3. Peel and de-seed Butternut pumpkin. Cut into chunks and add to stockpot, combine with other ingredients. Cover pot and allow to cook until soft. Stir regularly to ensure no sticking on the bottom of the stockpot. Maintain temperature at 140 to 165°C (285-330°F) (Can be tested with thermometer).
4. Gently mash pumpkin in the stockpot. Add chicken stock and lime juice. Simmer for 30 minutes.
5. Blend pumpkin mixture in batches. For a smoother texture, use an upright blender rather than a stick blender.
6. Return blended soup to a pot, add coconut milk and simmer over low heat. Season to taste.
The soup pictured here is garnished with Garlic Chilli Prawns, coriander, and Crispy Prawn Head.