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The Perfect Fall Recipe: Burmese Pumpkin Pork Stew

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Fall is here and what better way to welcome the season than with a delicious pumpkin recipe! Pumpkin Pork Stew is a popular dish served year-round at our Burma Superstar restaurants. Best served with a side of steamed rice, this stew makes for an incredibly warm and comforting dish for the colder days ahead. The great thing about this recipe is that you can easily customize it to your liking- switching out pork for chicken, or omitting the protein all together and enjoying it as a vegetarian stew. The staff at our restaurants especially love this dish with pork, however. Pork is commonly used in Burmese cuisine to create flavorful dishes, from hearty curries to aromatic stir-frys. The fattiness from the pork has the power to add a mouthwatering richness to any dish. This recipe was featured on Anthony Bourdain's Parts Unknown: Myanmar and can also be found on page 33 of our Burma Superstar Cookbook.

Now let's get into the fun! Here’s what you’ll need. 

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The so-called pumpkin in this dish is kabocha squash, a variety with orange flesh and dark green skin. It is sold year-round in Asian markets and is also often available in other grocery stores in fall and winter. (Butternut squash can be used in its place). Kabocha squash varies significantly in size, but the good news is that if you have extra, the squash keeps in the refrigerator for a couple of weeks even after it’s been cut open. 

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The skin can be hard to peel with a vegetable peeler, but leaving a few stripes of green is perfectly acceptable. If you're having trouble cutting into the squash, you can place it into the microwave for one minute to soften until you can safely cut through. Once peeled, be sure to scoop out the seeds from the inside. To cook the pumpkin, cut the squash into wedges about 1 inch thick. If the wedges are longer than 4 inches, cut them in half crosswise. 

a bowl of fruit on a plate

In a saucepan or pot big enough to fit the pumpkin, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the garlic and ginger and cook, stirring often, until the garlic is golden but before it turns brown, about 1 minute. Stir in the turmeric and remove from the heat. Nestle the pumpkin wedges in the pot and pour in enough water to cover (at least 3 1⁄2 cups). Add salt. Bring the pot to a boil, then lower to a gentle simmer and cook until the pumpkin is almost tender when pierced with a fork, 10 to 15 minutes. Let the pumpkin cool to room temperature in the cooking water; reserve the water.

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To make the pork stew, trim away the sinew from the pork, but leave some of the fat; it will add richness to the stew. Cut the pork into 1⁄2-to 1-inch pieces. Transfer to a bowl and use your hands to mix with the salt and turmeric. Let the pork marinate at room temperature while you prepare the other ingredients, or refrigerate it overnight.

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In a 6-quart pot, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onions and cook for 4 minutes, stirring often to prevent scorching. Stir in the ginger, garlic, and chiles and cook until most of the water from the onions has been cooked out and a glossy layer of oil has risen to the surface, about 10 minutes. Add the pork and stir to coat.

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Ladle in 3 cups of the pumpkin cooking water (if short on pumpkin water, add tap water to make up the difference). Bring to a boil and then lower to a gentle simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, until the meat is tender when pierced with a fork, about 11⁄2 hours.

Stir in the curry powder and fish sauce, (we recommend using our Burma Love Anchovy Sauce) and add the pumpkin and 1⁄2 cup of the pumpkin (or tap) water. Simmer gently until the sauce coats each piece of meat and the stew has thickened (it should not be soupy), about 10 minutes. Ideally, let the stew sit for 20 minutes before serving to let the flavors meld. Bring to a simmer before serving and taste, adding more salt or fish sauce if desired. Serve with bowls of mint, cilantro, and lime wedges and a side of coconut or jasmine rice of course.  Pro tip: let your rice soak up all the delicious flavors from the stew and enjoy with every bite! 

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One bite of this and you'll see why Pumpkin Pork Stew is the perfect dish to impress your friends and family this holiday season. And the best part? It’s even better the next day as leftovers! We hope you enjoy this recipe and have fun making it at home. 

a bowl of food on a table

Be sure to tag us on instagram (@burmasuperstar and @burmalove) if you recreate our Burmese Pumpkin Pork Stew. We can't wait to see how you enjoy it this holiday season. Feel free to save and share this recipe to spread the love. Happy cooking! 

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