Pumpkin with Dried Shrimps Stir Fry

Stir fried butternut pumpkin
I cannot remember my mum ever cooking pumpkin. In fact, I cannot remember ever eating pumpkin in Malaysia.

The first time I ate pumpkin was in Australia at a friend's Christmas lunch where she served Kent pumpkin pieces roasted with skin on. It was so yum, even the skin! When my parents visited me in Australia many years ago, I decided to make that roasted Kent pumpkin the way my friend did for them to try. I could see they liked it, even though they wouldn't eat the roasted skin, lol.

I have since used pumpkin often in my cooking. I love pumpkin soup served with garlic bread. I have successfully adapted a savoury steamed cake to use pumpkin instead of taro.

And I created this pumpkin stir-fry using an ingredient that is familiar to me - dried shrimps **(see notes) - that pairs very well with the sweetness of pumpkin. Dried shrimps may be a bit funky to the Western palate, but if used well, it imparts an umami flavour to a dish and is really delish. I plan to make this dish with an ingredient substitution for dried shrimps soon, so stay tuned.

This dish can also be made 'vegetarian' by omitting the dried shrimps, or replacing them with TVP mince, and using a vegetarian oyster sauce.

The vibrant colour of this dish pops on the table, and is a delicious accompaniment for steamed rice.

Stir fried Kent pumpkin

Pumpkin with Dried Shrimps Stir Fry

Approx. 800 gm pumpkin, peeled and deseeded
1 tablespoon dried shrimp skins** (see notes)
3 cloves garlic, peeled and finely minced
3 to 4 tablespoons neutral flavour oil
1 tablespoon oyster sauce
1 tablespoon light soy sauce
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1/4 teaspoon ground white pepper
1/2 to 1 cup water
salt to taste

For garnish:
Chopped spring onions or toasted sesame seeds

  1. If using dried shrimp skins** - rinse and drain them.
    If using dried shrimps/prawns** - soak in some boiling water for 10 minutes, drain and chop/mince finely.
  2. Cut pumpkin into thick batons (like thickness of thick cut chips).
  3. Heat oil in wok over medium high heat.
  4. Add minced garlic, saute for about 20-30 seconds. Then add prepared dried shrimps and saute till it is fragrant and start to turn light golden brown.
  5. Add pumpkin, oyster sauce, soy sauce, sesame oil, white pepper, and about 1/2 cup water. Mix, cover wok and cook using medium heat.
  6. Give it a stir after a couple of minutes, adding a bit more water if needed. Taste and add some salt to taste if required. Cover again and continue to cook till pumpkin is just cooked thru but not mushy. Add a bit more water if pumpkin needs longer cooking time and water dries up.
  7. Garnish with chopped spring onions and/or roasted sesame seeds. Serve with steamed rice.

**Notes:
There are 2 types of dried shrimps that I normally use.

Dried shrimps/prawns
These are dried prawns which can come in varying sizes, usually the smaller they are, the cheaper. They have to be soaked for about 10 minutes to soften before using and they usually need to be chopped or minced.
Dried shrimp skins
These are very small (and light) dried shrimps that are almost transparent and look like prawn shells (skins). They are a lot quicker and easier to use. Just rinse them, drain and use immediately. Very useful for quick stir fries. I also like to stir fry them with a little oil until they are crispy, then use as a quick garnish/sprinkle over steamed dishes, and even fried rice.