It’s Halloween, and that of course means pumpkins carved into ghoulish jack o’ lanterns, eerily lit up from inside by a candle.
Pumpkins aren’t a very common ingredient in Indonesian cuisine, but other members of the squash family are. Squashes come in various sizes and shapes, and take on bright orange or green shades.
There are two different types of squash: winter and summer. Winter squashes include pumpkins; butternut squashes with their elongated bottle shape; and kabocha, with a vivid orange hue that you can find at stores selling Japanese produce.
Winter squashes contain natural sugar similar to sweet potatoes. It is best to bake or steam them although you can also use them in tempura or even to make ice cream.
When picking a winter squash like a pumpkin to cook, it’s important to choose one of which the flesh is a deep orange for a better taste.
Summer squashes are very different from winter squashes. They include varieties of zucchini, and can be eaten raw or cooked. It takes very little time to cook summer squash.
For this week’s recipe, I have a vegetarian dish to celebrate Halloween. It is urap with roast pumpkin twist. Enjoy!
Roast pumpkin with urap
Urap is classic Sundanese vegetable dish with many different vegetables topped with a spiced coconut dressing and kencur , a type of aromatic ginger. It adds new layers of flavors of the urap, and the addition of the roast pumpkin imparts a different texture.
• For the pumpkin: 500gr pumpkin; 2 tablespoons vegetable oil; salt and black pepper for seasoning.
• For the urap: 100gr baby carrots, peeled and grated; 50gr long beans; 100gr red cabbage, thinly sliced; 100gr beansprouts, with sprouts removed; 50gr horenzo or Japanese spinach, with stems removed; small bunch of basil or kemangi , with stems removed.
• For the paste: 75gr shallots, peeled; 2 cloves garlic, peeled; 4 curly red chili peppers, or more for a spicier taste; half teaspoon roasted shrimp paste or 1 tablespoon fish sauce; 5cm aromatic ginger/kencur; half tablespoon sugar; half teaspoon lime juice; 3 bay leaves; 2 tablespoons vegetable oil; half fresh coconut flesh, finely grated and seasoned with salt (for urap, make sure the coconut is not too young, when the flesh is soft, or too old, when the flesh gets hard).
Making the roast pumpkin:
• Preheat an oven to 180 degrees Celsius.
• Peel the pumpkin and remove the seeds. Cut the pumpkin flesh into cubes of 2cm.
• Put the pumpkin cubes onto a baking tray. Season with salt and black pepper and vegetable oil.
• Bake for around 30 minutes, or until soft. Set aside to cool.
Making the urap:
• Blanch the long beans whole in boiling water, then take out immediately and douse with ice water.
• Chop the beans into half-centimeter segments. Set aside.
• Keep all the vegetables in the refrigerator until ready to use.
Making the coconut dressing:
• Finely grind all the paste ingredients except for the bay leaves and coconut.
• Heat a frying pan over medium heat and add 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil.
• Saute the paste and bay leaves for about 4 to 6 minutes until fragrant. Transfer the mixture into a bowl to cool.
• Add the grated coconut to the spice mixture and steam for around 10 minutes.
• Steam the long beans separately for 3 to 4 minutes.
• Remove the long beans from the steamer and put into a bowl with ice water to stop the process cooking. Set aside.
• Remove the coconut and paste mixture from the steamer.
• Add the sugar and season with salt. Check the seasoning. Set aside to cool. Discard the bay leaves.
• To serve, simply mix all the vegetables, basil, roast pumpkin and the coconut dressing.