I learned this ‘Seafood stew in a pumpkin’ dish from a Korean cooking show recently. It is like serving seafood stew in a steamed pumpkin instead of a serving plate.
The dish is quite straight forward to prepare and I am confident that both my children would like it…even though one loves pumpkin and the other wouldn’t even want to take a tiny bite. Initially I had planned to cook this dish just for one of them, but, like the Chinese saying, 计划赶不上变化 (literally translated as plans always fall behind changes), I ended up serving this for the whole family. Well, I thought, the elder one could enjoy the entire dish while the younger one could just eat everything, except the pumpkin 😉
There are two ways to prepare the pumpkin to use as a ‘serving bowl’. The lid can be first carved out and the pulp removed before it is steamed. The other method is to steam the pumpkin first to make it easier to cut out the lid. Either way is fine as long as the pumpkin is cooked and has softened (fork tender) but can still retain its shape. Do not overcook till it becomes too soft otherwise it may not be able to hold the fillings.
The cooked pumpkin is then filled with the seafood stew and topped with grated cheese before sending it into the oven to bake. The baking is only meant for the cheese to melt as the fillings is already cooked.
This Korean dish is normally prepared with a spicy seafood stew that is seasoned with gochujang (Korean chili paste) and gochugaru (Korean chili powder). However, the cooking show(“What shall we eat today?”) demonstrates a non-spicy version, replacing the chili paste and chili powder with ready made pasta sauce. To make it even more palatable to suit children’s taste buds, the pumpkin is brushed with honey before filling it with the stew. Besides the seafood, another key ingredients of the dish is Korean rice cakes. I replaced the rice cakes with cooked macaroni as I thought the it should go well with the pasta sauce, and it would be like pasta seafood marinara in a pumpkin. The dish was very appetising and I really like the nice presentation…something I would serve if I have guests coming over for dinner. I will also try the spicy version soon before my pack of gochugaru expires!
Seafood Stew in Pumpkin
1 medium size pumpkin
2 gloves of garlic, thinly sliced
1/2 yellow onion, sliced
1/2 bell pepper, cut into bite size
2 sausages, slice diagonally into bite size
1 small to medium size squid, cleaned, skinned, cut into rings
6~10 prawns, removed shells and devein
1/2 cup cooked macaroni or fusilli
2~3 tablespoons pasta sauce (I used canned tomato sauce)
1 tablespoon cooking oil
1 tablespoon butter
salt and pepper for seasoning
a few tablespoons water
grated mozzarella cheese
- Wash the pumpkin. Cut a lid from the top of the pumpkin. Carve out the flash in the centre with a sharp knife carefully. Remove the pulp and seeds with a spoon. Scrape the inside of the pumpkin clean with the spoon. Discard the lid
- Steam the pumpkin for 15 mins until it has cooked and softened but still retains its shape. Drain the water that may have welled inside the pumpkin. (Note: alternatively, to make it easier to cut out the lid, steam the whole pumpkin for 15 mins before cutting the lid. Test the doneness and if necessary steam the pumpkin for another few more minutes.)
- In a frying pan on medium heat, heat the cooking oil and saute the garlic, onions, bell pepper and sausages.
- Add in the butter followed by the squid, prawn and macaroni. Add in the pasta sauce and stir fry quickly for about 30 seconds. Do not over cook the seafood. Add a few tablespoons of water if the mixture is dry.
- Season with pepper and salt to taste. Remove from heat.
- Brush the inside of the cooked pumpkin with some honey.
- Fill the pumpkin with the seafood mixture. Top with grated cheese and bake in preheated oven at 200 degC for about 10 mins or until the cheese has melted. (Note: depending on the size of the pumpkin, there could be some leftover seafood mixture.)
- Remove pumpkin from oven and place it on a large serving plate. Cut the pumpkin into wedges but do not cut through so that the wedges form a flower shape around the seafood. Serve immediately.