Delicious and easy Asian & Chinese pumpkin recipes from Xinjiang flavours to Thai, perfect for bringing you a bountiful harvest over the Lunar New Year or for a fresh take on a traditional Thanksgiving ingredient.
Everyone knows that pumpkin is a staple of American Thanksgiving (and Halloween)- it's a type of squash that is native to North America- but it's also eaten on other special occasions such as Lunar New Year.
Fun fact: Besides the bright orange pumpkin flesh, its shell, seeds, leaves and flowers are also edible once cooked. The roasted seeds make a delicious snack and pumpkin leaves are part of Korean cuisine.
Chinese New Year
Chinese New Year is commonly associated with lucky dishes such as dumplings and whole fish, but some people eat pumpkin for CNY too. There's a belief that dreaming about pumpkins means you'll have a good harvest and some associate eating it ("kum kua" in Cantonese) with "You're the best" (ding gua gua in Mandarin Chinese), so this would certainly be a good time to eat golden brown, delicious Chinese pumpkin cakes (it's delicious with sesame seeds sprinkled on top) as well as Nan Gua Bing, a savory pumpkin cake that only requires 4 ingredients.
Other CNY recipes
Chinese cuisine dishes that are typically found on the CNY table include:
- uncut noodles for long life, such as mee siam goreng, mee siam kuah, stir-fried bihun and so on
- whole chicken e.g. one-pot soy sauce chicken
- Chinese peanut cookies for a fertile year
- jujube longan tea- families used to make this before they could buy cheap fizzy drinks
- 23 vegan and vegetarian CNY recipes
- 70 or so Chinese New Year dishes
- A special Chinese dessert for the New year, pumpkin Nian Gao
If you're not sure where to start, here's an easy Chinese New Year menu plan.
A pumpkin dish is a staple on the Thanksgiving table. These Asian & Chinese pumpkin recipes are great if you're bored with the classic menu. We usually end up with tons of leftovers after the holidays, so if you've had enough of pumpkin pancakes and pumpkin buns, the porridge and soup recipes below are good alternative ideas for any extra pumpkin puree you have on hand after making your pumpkin pie.
3 heaped tablespoons (i.e. about 80g of pumpkin) make up 1 portion of your 5 a day. Other associated health benefits potentially include:
- better skin
- better eye sight
- improved immunity
- reduced risk of metabolic syndrome such as diabetes
- cancer prevention
Moreover, the natural sweetness of the pumpkin means that you can use less sugar than normal in a pumpkin recipe.
Note: this information is for entertainment only and not meant as medial, diet or health advice. Please consult a qualified medical professional instead for such purposes.
How to store
If you've leftovers after cutting your pumpkin, cover it with plastic wrap and store in the fridge. Some pumpkins are huge though- if it's too large to fit in the chiller, divide it into thin slices then store in an airtight container.
It can also be frozen for for up to 3 months- line the pumpkin slices in a single layer, and put it in the freezer. Once frozen, they can be jumbled up in a ziplock bag without sticking to each other (for easy defrosting.)
Chinese Pumpkin Porridge
A very simple recipe is to add some pumpkin cubes to your rice cooker the next time you cook rice. Drizzle some sesame oil and minced garlic on top, and you're good to go!
You can also add mashed, steamed pumpkin to your mantou dough to get delicious, orange steamed mantou buns. For regular Western-style pumpkin dough , try this easy pumpkin bread recipe from King Arthur Baking.
Thai-inspired Vegan Pumpkin Soup
Instant Pot Pumpkin Chicken Curry
Xinjiang-style stir-fried beef and pumpkin
Baked mini pumpkins
Whilst this recipe originally calls for butternut squash, pumpkin is a great substitute too as the gochujang sauce is very flexible. You can also mix it with kabocha, sweet potatoes and carrots, though you'll need to be mindful of the different cooking times and cut the sizes accordingly.
What is your favourite Asian food that contains pumpkin?
Before you go, other Chinese dishes that may be of interest include: