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Friday, February 27, 2009

Pumpkin Braised in Coconut Milk (Canh Bí Rợ Hầm Dừa)

when i lived in thailand, it was commonplace to see elephants in the streets. it was also common to see sidewalk restaurants spilling into busy streets, motorcycles weaving thru the scattered crowds of people vying for stools to sit on while they ate their food. it was like musical chairs, in the smog and heat, with hot bowls of soup in hand. what also mixed in with all the heavenly smells of food (and said pollution) was the smell of burning incense. thailand is a predominantly buddhist country (altho, i once volunteered at a blind school and Anan, the boy i read to was muslim). Their temples are things of legend. Egypt has pyramids. America has the Grand Canyon and Dollywood. France has the Eiffel Tower. The UK has Harry Potter and Take That. so thailand has temples of gold (Wat Traimit), or stone. those are the official temples. but then there are the mini wats, found on corners for people to go in, light an incense stick and pray.

they were commonplace. monks were too. early in the morning, they could be seen, in their bright orange robes, going about their almsround. from my understanding of buddhism, monks are vegetarians, they do not harm living things, ev.er. Flipping thru my cookbook one day last week i came upon a delectable soup, perfect for a cold winter night, but also tasty enough that i wouldn't be left feeling hungry. it's what i think a monk would eat: chunks of soft pumpkin, smooth creamy coconut milk. the original recipe calls for the use of salt, i used fish sauce and i also added a few other veggies in it to make it heartier. it came out so pretty, i enjoyed it thoroughly. i was going to substitute butternut squash because i do not like pumpkin but the asian market only had pumpkin. i was pleasantly surprised that the pumpkin was rather unoffensive. now that i think about it, this soup would be great in the summer too, it's that refreshing. even tho i am no longer a buddhist no longer play along with my elders and "fake" the buddhism thing, i've always appreciated the quietness of temples, of the peacefulness of being in a monk's presence, the rightness of burning incense to offer a prayer, i'm pleased to add this monk's soup to the list.

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Pumpkin Braised in Coconut Milk (Canh Bí Rợ Hầm Dừa)
adapted from Authentic Recipes from Vietnam by Triệu Thị Chơi and Marcel Isaak

2 cups peeled and cubed pumpkin (¾-inch cubes)
1 can of coconut milk, thinned with water
1 can of bamboo shoots
1 can of straw mushrooms
1 teaspoon sugar
Salt or fish sauce, to taste
Fresh cilantro leaves

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In a deep saucepan, bring coconut milk and pumpkin to a boil.
Cook for about 10 minutes, until pumpkin is half done (still too firm to be easily pierced with a knife).
Add the can of mushrooms and bamboo shoots at your leisure
Bring to a boil again, then remove from heat. Season with salt/fish sauce and sugar.
Serve garnished with fresh cilantro leaves.

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Today's song: sara bareilles, gravity

5 comments:

  1. Hi AA,
    You don't practice buddism anymore? I hope you haven't lost faith in religion. Oh did you know Canh Bi helps to cure headaches and migranes? This is actually pretty good for you. Thanks for sharing.

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  2. HoustonWok, my paternal grandmother sent me to Catholic Vietnamese school when i was a kid, even tho she's a devout buddhist. i've never identified myself as a buddhist. in college, i went to Mass every sunday and to this day, i believe in God, sans any type of denomination. i did not know that Canh Bi cures headaches/migraines, that is good to know!

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  3. Geez, you're such a place-dropper! Aaaaand I'm just a little jealous I haven't been to all the places you have. But seriously, I'm just glad you're talking about yourself a little instead of just boring recipes and crap... :)

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  4. timothy -
    don't hate, you're hitting 3rd world countries too and actually making a difference.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Geez, you're such a place-dropper! Aaaaand I'm just a little jealous I haven't been to all the places you have. But seriously, I'm just glad you're talking about yourself a little instead of just boring recipes and crap... :)

    ReplyDelete