Chunks of squash is cooked in aromatic rendang spices that is traditionally used to cook beef rendang. Vegan and gluten-free friendly.
Unlike my mom, my grandma (my mom’s side) didn’t know how to write, read, or speak Mandarin. She grew up in the era when Indonesia was still one of the Dutch colonies and so she learned Dutch fluently and knew some English too. My mom knows how to cook Indonesian Chinese food because of my other grandma (my dad’s side). She was as Chinese as she could be and she cooked quite a bit of traditional Chinese food.
That really explained why my dad was a must-have-soup-and-rice person with pretty much every meal. My mom enjoyed lots of street food and local Indonesian food. Yup, what the parents serve at home surely take a big part in kids’ culinary life too 😉
My grandma didn’t cook much Chinese food, if at all. She often cooked Indonesian food and Dutch East Indies food like Semur (Smoor), which I have yet to post that recipe here. She loved to bake too. Spekkoek (lapis legit) was one of the cakes that she baked for Chinese New Year when I was a kid and I always looked forward to that.
Rendang is not Dutch Indies food, but it’s one of the food that grandma made often and she often made it with chicken or beef and she liked to put red kidney beans in there too, which was my favorite.
I have to adjust the recipe for the rendang sauce a little bit because, with beef rendang, the cooking time is much much longer. It only took me about 20-25 minutes for the squash to be fork tender. You don’t see as much oil “floating” on top compared to beef rendang, but this acorn squash rendang is still very aromatic despite a much shorter cooking time.
Now in Indonesia, we don’t really make squash rendang on its own (without any meat). I really love the rendang sauce and it turned out good on meatless version too. I’ve mentioned in my recipe below that you can add kidney beans or other beans to this squash rendang too and you have yourself some meatless protein there 🙂
Acorn Squash Rendang
- 10 pieces dried red chili soaked in warm water until soft
- 1 red Thai chili for some heat if you like -optional
- 4 cloves garlic peeled
- 5 shallots peeled
- ½ inch ginger root peeled
- 1- inch turmeric root or about 3 tsp ground turmeric powder
- 1 ½ inches galangal root or 4 tsp of galangal powder peeled
- Pinch salt to taste
- about 2 lbs of acorn squash
- 1 Tbsp cooking oil
- ¼ cup unsweetened grated coconut
- 1 stalk of fresh lemon grass trim the stalky ends and cut into two and bruised with heavy objects
- 6 fresh kaffir lime leaves tear each leaf a bit to release flavor
- 1 turmeric leaf optional
- 4 fresh bay leaves
- 3 cardamom
- 1 cup coconut cream
- Salt to taste
- Dry fry the grated coconut on pan until lightly golden brown. Remove from the heat and smash with pestle or heavy objects to release a bit of oil and flavor. Set aside. Blend all the ground spices ingredients into a paste, you may need to add a little bit of the water in there to get it going
- You can poke the acorn squash with a fork and then microwave for 1 minute and then use a peeler to peel the skin off OR you can use a Chinese cleaver to peel the skin off, it's easier than using a regular knife I think. Once the skin is off, cut in half and then scoop out all the seeds and strings. Cut into large chunks, about 3-inch or so
- Preheat a large heavy-bottomed pot. Add in the cooking oil. Stir fry the ground spices until fragrant, about 5 minutes. Add grated coconut, lemongrass, kaffir lime leaves, turmeric leaf (if using), bay leaves, cardamom, and continue to stir fry until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add in squash chunks, coconut cream, bring to a gentle boil and reduce the heat to let it simmer gently, uncovered until all the liquid is almost gone and the coconut milk has reduced to oil, 20 minutes or so and the squash should be fork tender and you can see some oil separated from the liquid too, but we don't want them to turn into mush. Have a taste towards the end of boiling to see if you need more salt
- Turn off the heat and serve as part of multicourse meal
You might like other Indonesian recipes too.