Kabocha Squash, or Japanese Pumpkin, is our favorite squash of all time. It’s rich, smooth and buttery. Which is why it fits so well with the creamy and smooth texture of this Thai green curry. We made curry several times while we were in Thailand and this is our favorite method. Green curry is traditionally made with eggplant and chicken, but we wanted to mix up the vegetables and also keep it vegan.
This is a quick and unbelievably flavorful dish to put together. Roasting the Kabocha Squash brings out it’s beautiful and sweet flavors even more. Plus, you can roast it ahead of time if you meal prep to keep this dish even quicker!
Thai ingredients in this dish that might be new for you:
- Thai Green Curry Paste – This is the brand we use because it’s vegan and we can find it at almost every Asian market. But, any vegan curry paste will be great (normal Thai curry paste’s have fish sauce or shrimp paste so check for that). We prefer the pastes from the Asian market over the regular American grocery store options because they taste more authentic.
- Kaffir Lime Leaves – you probably know by now that we use these a lot when we cook. These are a must for this dish and are easily found at the Asian grocery store. We freeze them to have on hand at all times and not waste any.
- Thai Basil – a beautiful and floral final touch to this dish, we also use this in stir-fries and curries.
- Vegan Fish Sauce – This adds umami to a dish, but you can use salt or soy sauce in it’s place if you don’t want to make it. I haven’t been able to find a vegan store bought version but check your local markets if you have time.
Important Notes Up Front:
For a richer tasting curry, you will be frying the curry paste in a bit of creamy coconut oil first. This is the traditional Thai method and we think it’s definitely worth it and improves the taste immensely. There are a couple of options for doing this.
- You can pour 1/4 of your coconut milk into the soup pot and cook it down until water evaporates and you are left with the oil, which you will then add the curry paste to.
- Or, you can scoop out the thick coconut cream that’s often at the top of the can of coconut milk when you open it and fry that in the pot for a minute or so. Then you will add your curry paste to it. The flavors are amazing!
In addition, if you want to make the curry more green, blend a little of the coconut milk with about 10 basil leaves and pour into the curry when you add the additional coconut milk and veggie broth. We learned this trick from Hot Thai Kitchen.
Vegan Kabocha Squash Thai Green Curry
- 1 kabocha squash see notes below
- 1 15 oz can coconut milk
- 1-2 tbsp vegan Thai curry paste use 1 tbsp if you don't want it spicy
- 1 cup veggie broth we use a bouillon with hot water so it's saltier
- 1 tbsp vegan fish sauce or 2 tsp salt
- 5 kaffir lime leaves
- 1 tbsp palm sugar or 3 tsp brown sugar if you don't have palm sugar
- 1 tbsp thai basil leaves for topping (optional but recommended)
- 1 Thai chili pepper for topping (optional)
- 1 handful bean sprouts for topping (optional)
- Heat the oven to 425 degrees. While it's heating, cut the squash into 1/2"-1" half moon slices. Place the squash on a silicone mat or parchment lined baking sheet. You may need two baking sheets. Bake for 20-30 minutes, until soft and turning golden.
- While the squash is baking, start the curry. Pour 1/4 cup of the coconut milk into a medium soup pot and heat on a low simmer for until the milk starts to thicken. This is an essential step in getting the most flavor in the dish.
- Once the coconut milk has cooked down, add in the Thai curry paste. Turn the heat to medium and fry the paste until it mixes well with the coconut milk and is fragrant - 30 seconds to a minute. You will start to see oil from the coconut oil in the pan. Add in the remainder of the coconut milk and the vegetable broth.
- Add the kaffir lime leaves, palm sugar, and vegan fish sauce to the pot. Stir well. Bring to a boil, then simmer for 5 minutes.
- The squash should be done at this point. While the curry is simmering, cut the squash into 1" cubes and add half to the curry. You may not use all of the squash. Check to make sure you have enough broth and add more squash if you do, or save the rest of the squash for later.
- Thai basil to the curry, stir well and turn off the heat. Add to bowls and serve over rice and top with chilis and bean sprouts.
- We leave the skin on the squash since it softens while it roasts and adds a lovely texture to the dish. Feel free to remove after it roasts and before adding to the curry if you like.
- The process of cooking down the coconut milk is important because the water evaporates from the milk and leaves a thicker This keeps the coconut milk from curdling. For most people who are using canned coconut milk, this will be the case. Some people also use coconut cream for this step, but we have found that you still need to cook down the cream a bit before adding the curry paste.
- We learned to add the vegetable broth from a video on Hot Thai Kitchen and we like the additional flavor. She added chicken broth but we added veggie broth to keep it vegan.