Traditional Thai Fish Custard Goes Vegetarian

By

Korakot Suriya-arporn
Aliza Eliazarov
Kabocha Squash, Red Curry Custard, Kaffir Lime Leaf, Chiles, and Pumpkin Seeds
Kabocha Squash, Red Curry Custard, Kaffir Lime Leaf, Chiles, and Pumpkin Seeds

It's late fall in New York, and at Matt Danzer and Ann Redding's audacious little Uncle Boons, that means the return of haw mok phukk tong. Redding learned to make the tradional dish—a curried fish custard steamed in a banana leaf—in her mother's Thai kitchen, but in a radical vegetarian mash-up, the couple substitutes sweet, seasonal kabocha squash for the fish. More than anything, it's a visual play with both orange-hued versions looking remarkably similar. But to the uninititated American diner, the dish is a silky, flavor-packed revelation.

The custard is seasoned with soybean paste (in lieu of fish sauce to keep in vegetarian), palm sugar (for its smoky sweetness), and fragrant krachai (or fingerroot, a ginger-like rhizome). The kitchen then steams the custard in a combi coven and finishes them with makrut-infused salted coconut cream, candied coriander and pumpkin seeds, and chiles. It's a salty, sweet, fiery, wholly untraditional fall knockout.

 

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