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Thai Butternut Squash Panang Curry

This curry employs the typical technique and ingredients for Thai curry, except you should roast the squash first. You can do the roasting step days in advance.

Supplies and Equipment:

Medium Pot or Rice Cooker
Baking Sheet

Whole Butternut Squash
Panang Curry Paste
1 Can of Coconut Milk / 2 persons
Stick of Butter
Fresh Basil

A Note on Curry Paste – The paste is the trickiest thing to find. Your best hope for a one-shot trip is an asian specialty store. It doesn’t have to be refrigerated prior to opening, so it should go with the general stock in the aisle. It might be near the dry noodles or canned sauces, though ironically I never only sometimes see it near the dry spices.


Optional :

Fresh Ginger
Fish Sauce (Ubiquitous in authentic Thai food, even vegetarian dishes.)
Chopped Vegetables for color and contrast

Roasting the Squash:

So you’ll need to split a specimen of butternut squash, lengthwise.

Clear the guts out of the bulbous end of each piece.

Rub the flesh with butter, and put the rest in the cavity where the seeds were. Add brown sugar, if you want. Don’t want butter? At least rub with olive oil. It ensures even distribution of heat while helping the flesh to retain moisture.

Roast on the middle rack of the oven at 400F for about an hour. You can expect the skin to blacken, but the flesh should deepen in color and take on a custard-like texture around the edges.

When the flesh is nice and soft in the middle, take them out for cooling. It’s going to smell wonderful.

The Curry

Start your rice, now.

Blend 10g (2 tsp) paste per person with 1/2 can coconut milk per person. If you have an odd number of diners, skim the thick milk fat off the top of that last can. It’s the best part.

Scoop out the roasted squash into the blender a little at a time as the milk blends. 2-3 people will be serviced by each half.

This portion of spice should result in a pleasant tingle. It’ll relieve sinus pressure, but the heat isn’t by any means an emotional experience of itself. In the case of sweet curries such as this, I think the heat should play second, even third fiddle to the sweet-savory flavor and creamy texture. Play to your own taste, though.

Into the Pan!

Lubricate the pan for a sauté. You can use butter, canola oil, peanut oil, or cold-pressed olive oil (Xtra Virgin will probably burn).

Stir in hot pan until fragrant : chopped garlic (and/or ginger). A collective 3/4 handful is plenty.

Add the squashy blended milk mixture to the pan.

Add any vegetables you had ready, chopped bite sized.

Heat through and let it simmer at low heat, stirring occasionally. The sauce will thicken and intensify.

Serving time probably depends on how thick the sauce was to start with, but it happens pretty quick. My idea is that the sauce should start out loose in the blender, so that there is some water to cook out, giving coconut milk sugars time to acquire some nuttiness.

Take the curry off the heat as soon as the sauce tightens up. At that point, deal with any corrective seasonings. Fish sauce, tamarind, red pepper flakes, and cilantro are excellent additions.

Now, stir in a handful of basil leaves and serve over rice.