How I love me some shrimp cooked in butternut squash or pumpkin.. let me count the ways. This is one of my favorite recipes and it’s a take on another one I shared a while back which our mom is a boss at making – shrimp cooked in pumpkin. But this time we’ll be adding some additional flavor by incorporating a madras blend curry into the mix. Not only is this a delightful way to prepare butternut squash (you can also use Caribbean style pumpkin), it’s a great way to add flavor to what could be considered a typically boring dish.
1 lb shrimp (peeled/deveined)
1 med butternut squash (about 4-5 cups)
1 small onion (diced)
3 cloves garlic crushed
3/4 teaspoon salt (divided)
1 tablespoon curry powder
1/4 scotch bonnet pepper (no seeds)
3 tables spoons olive oil (divided)
1/4 teaspoon grated ginger
1 tablespoon green seasoning
1 tablespoon brown sugar
* For the green seasoning mix, see : Caribbean Green Seasoning. I used a madras curry powder blend from the Caribbean Much different than what you’d find elsewhere and can be found at your local West Indian grocery store and some online stores.
Peel, devein, wash and drain the shrimp and get ready for seasoning. In a bowl place the cleaned shrimp and add 1/4 teaspoon of the salt and the green seasoning, give it a good mix and allow it to marinate while we prep the butternut squash. Try to not let the shrimp marinate more than 15 minutes.
If you’ve never worked with butternut squash you’ll find it a bit tough to cut and peel, so it’s important that you have a sharp knife. It will have a sort of bottle shape, so the first thing I do is to cut off the sort of ‘neck’ shape (see pic). Make it easier to handle. I then cut the sort of ball shape in half to expose the seeds. Using a spoon, scoop out the seeds and stuff surrounding the seeds. Discard or save to roast as you would pumpkin seeds.
Then cut into smaller more manageable pieces and peel with a sharp pairing knife or potato peeler. You’ll find the skin is tough and somewhat waxy. Cubed into 1 inch pieces and rinse with cool water. If you’re doing this in advance, be sure to place it in a bowl and cover with cool water so it remains fresh and not discolored.
In a deep sauce pan heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil on low heat, then add the diced onion and crushed garlic. Let that cook for about 4 minutes so it releases it’s wonderful flavors. Then add the scotch bonnet pepper, grated ginger (dice fine – wear gloves when handling scotch bonnet peppers and wash your hands with soap) and curry powder. With your heat still on low.. we’re cooking the curry so you don’t get a raw curry taste later on.
Now turn up the heat to med/high and toss in the seasoned shrimp. Cook for 3-4 minutes (we don’t want to over cook the shrimp) with the pot open. Remember to stir well and try to get the shrimp to pick up some of the base flavors we started with. Remove the shrimp and add the remaining 1 tablespoon of oil.
Toss in the cubed squash and give it a good stir. Now add the remaining salt, brown sugar and black pepper. Give it another quick stir, reduce the heat to med/low and cover the pot. Allow that to cook for about 15-20 minutes (remember to stir often). With the lid closed the squash will spring it’s own juices. If you find that it starts sticking to the bottom of the pot, lower the heat.
After 15 minutes, turn up the heat and remove the lid off the pot. We’re now trying to burn off any excess liquid. We also want to control the texture (I like it a like a thick paste) so using the back of my cooking spoon I pressed down on any chunky pieces of squash.
With most of the liquid burned off, it’s time to add the pre-cooked shrimp back to the pot and give it a good stir and taste for salt. Adjust accordingly.
Do try your best to burn off as much liquid as you can so you don’t have a soup consistency. This will heighten the overall flavor of the completed dish and with that curry shrimp base.. it will be fantastic. After adding the shrimp try not to cook too long (about 2-3 minutes) as we don’t want the shrimp to go chewy.
This curry shrimp with butternut squash is good with roti, rice, bread or you can treat it like any typical side. You can certainly leave out the shrimp if you want to keep this a vegetarian dish and if you’re wondering.. there’s enough here as a side dish for 5-6 people.