Sounds like a bad combo? Not if you’ve ever tasted my mom’s recipe for pumpkin (butternut squash in this case) cooked until it’s melted and as you turn of the heat you add some cooked shrimp to the mix. As a kid pumpkin and/or squash was one of those things we (my brother and sisters) would never allow to enter our mouth (we had a sentry posted at the entry to REFUSE all pumpkin-like food ) but as an adult the few times we can get our mom to cook it for us, we’re ever so thankful.
Here’s my take on my mom’s recipe for butternut squash with shrimp. Feel free to use any type of cooking (not the carving type you get for Halloween) pumpkin if you wish.
1 butternut squash (about 2lbs) – peeled and diced
1/2 small onion – chopped
2 cloves garlic – sliced thin or crushed
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 habanero pepper (optional)
1/4 teaspoon brown sugar
For the shrimp….
10 medium shrimp – peeled and deveined
1/4 small onion – chopped
1 clove garlic – crushed
1/4 teaspoon ketchup
1 tablespoon cilantro – chopped
dash of black pepper
dash of worchester sauce
1/2 teaspoon vegetable oil
NOTE: Though adding the shrimp gives it another layer of flavour, vegetarians can abstain from this step.
Start by cutting open the squash and as you would cut a watermelon into slices, do the same (you will need a heavy kitchen kinfe) . It can be a bit tough, but with a sharp potato peeler or as in my case a paring knife peel the skin away. Then using a spoon, scrape out all the seeds and surrounding tissue. Wash and slice into 1/2 inch cubes so it will cook fast.
Then dice the onion, garlic and pepper. After which you can now place a saucepan on med-high heat and pour in the olive oil. As the oil heats and comes close to smoking, add the onion and garlic. Allow to cook for about 2-3 minutes, then add the cubed squash.
With the heat between medium and low, add the sliced pepper (optional) black pepper and salt, then cover and let simmer for about 20 minutes. While this simmers lets get the shrimp seasoned and cooked.
Place the cleaned shrimp in a bowl and season with the ingredients mentioned above for this step (minus the oil). In another sauce pan heat the oil and add the seasoned shrimp. Keep the heat on high and only cook for about 3-5 minutes. When the shrimp turns changes colour, it’s a good indication that it’s cooked. Overcooking with cause the shrimp to go tough and change the flavour and texture of it. Don’t cover the sauce pan or it will spring a lot of water and stir as it cooks. Remove from over the burner when you’re done or the remaining heat will continue to cook the shrimp.
Back to the squash. After the 20 minutes the cubes should be tender and melting away, this is when you can add the brown sugar. Using the back or your cooking spoon, press down on the cubes of squash to make into a chunky paste. If it’s a bit runny at this point, allow any liquid to burn off. When the paste like consistency is thick and free from any liquid turn off the heat and add the shrimp we just cooked. Stir it in well to add the shrimp flavor to the entire dish.
Maybe you have a different way of preparing this dish or one that similar? Leave me your comments below. BTW, don’t forget to taste for salt.