DJ Foodielow-carb, low carb, sugar free, sugar-free, gluten-free, gluten free, primal, paleo

Thai Pumpkin Seafood Stew

Prep: 30 mins | Cook: 15 mins | Total: 45 mins | Servings:8


Thai Pumpkin Seafood Stew
Thai Pumpkin Seafood Stew
Thai Pumpkin Seafood Stew
Here is kind of a fun one. There are all kinds of seafood soups and stews, from all cultures with land near the sea. Thailand is no different!

First of all, this recipe is somewhat based around a "pumpkin", but ... not the wondrous pumpkin we all know and love from Cinderella. This is a type of pumpkin most Westerners usually refer to as the "kabocha" squash (called "Fak Thong", in Thailand); this squash likely originated in Cambodia.

Image lifted from

It's amongst one of the lowest carb winter squashes (although can usually be found, year round). It's WONDERFUL! One place where it can almost always be found is in a Tempura dish at your local Japanese haunt ... fried! The rind for a kabocha softens as it cooks and is completely edible, but I confess to cutting it off, anyway. It's a habit I developed from avoiding the rind in tempura. It's actually quite lovely and totally fine to eat (plus doesn't require the extra effort!). I leave this to you, to decide.

The taste is something like a cross between a russet potato and a sweet potato, but with significantly less carbs. It takes a bit more work to get to and is a little harder to find, but ... the effort can be worth it!

Pairing this amazing "pumpkin" with seafood, coconut and many of the Thai aromatics creates a fresh, clean, slightly sweet, healthy, creamy and smooth blend of flavors. It's a truly special dish and can be served as is, or served with some cauli-rice. Either way, you're in for a treat!

Nutrition Note: Kabocha info is based off of 4 cups of kabocha cubes, for 1/2 cup per person. Nutrition info is not in USDA database. It is an educated guess, but one which is close and honorably presented.

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IngredientsCaloriesFatProteinCarbsFiberSA'sNet Carbs
1 13.5-ounce can (381.38g)  coconut milk (Buy Now) 750.94818.4410.130010.13
1 1/2 tbsp (9g)  fresh galangal, roughly chopped (substitution = 1 tbsp. ginger)
1 tbsp (5g)  lemongrass, minced4.950.11.25001.25
8 each (12.8g)  kaffir lime leaves, chopped (substitution = 1 tsp. lime zest)
4 each (12g)  garlic cloves, roughly chopped16004004
1 small (2 to 3 lb.) (1135g)  kabocha squash (substitution = acorn, buttercup, delicata, pumpkin)36004284024
32 medium-sized (448g)  clams, fresh and alive331.524.4858.2413.440013.44
32 medium-sized (512g)  mussels, fresh and alive385.288.9653.7617.920017.92
1 1/2 lb (681g)  fresh salmon1273.4781.72136.20000
1 lb (454g)  shrimp481.249.0890.84.54.2804.26
2 tbsp (28g)  coconut oil2402400000
16 leaves (6.4g)  thai basil, hand torn (substitution = regular basil)
salt and pepper, to taste0000000
Totals (of 8 Servings):3855.01209.42g352.29g81.47g4.85g0g76.62g
Per Serving:481.8826.18g44.04g10.18g0.61g0g9.58g *


  1. First, in a small saucepan, add your coconut milk, galangal, lemongrass, lime leaves and garlic. Bring up to a slow simmer. Once it simmers, remove it from the heat and allow to sit and "steep" for 30 minutes. Stir, occasionally.
  2. While the coconut milk steeps in the aromatics, soak your fresh clams and mussels in a bowl of cold water, with a slow, steady stream of cold water dropping from the faucet into the bowl. This helps remove a touch of extra saltiness and sand. Let this sit with the water dripping on it.
  3. Prepare your pumpkin. I like to peel the outside, before I do anything, but this is totally unnecessary and a bit of a process (I use a knife and cut it off, like a cantaloupe). It is up to you. Next, cut it in half and scrape out the seeds with a spoon. Then, cut it into chunks about 1/2 to 3/4 of an inch, each. They should all be roughly the same size, so that they cook evenly. Set aside.
  4. Pick your clams and mussels out of the bowl, by scooping them up with your hands, and transferring them to another bowl. Any sand or debris should be left at the bottom of the original bowl. Wash the original bowl and set aside. We'll use it one more time. Place the new bowl of clams and mussels under the slow stream of cold water.
  5. Peel your shrimp and remove the big vein running through the back. (I left the peel on, because the shells were left in the clams and mussels, but this is up to you).
  6. Cut your fish into bite sized pieces (use a good fresh fish. I used salmon, because it's everywhere in the Pacific North West, but just about any good fresh fish will do: halibut, sole, snapper, etc.).
  7. Transfer your clams and mussels one more time. With a wet towel, pull the beards from the mussels. This is done by grabbing the beard with the towel and pinching hard between your fingers, then deliberately pulling OUT and towards the hinge. Some come out easier than others, but this should just about do it. You may also want to scrub the outside of your mussel shells, if there are a lot of funky little barnacles, debris and other riddles and games attached to them. Once your clams and mussels are clean and happy, pull them up and out of the bowl and place them on a dry towel, or in a colander to drip dry.
  8. Strain your coconut milk mixture through a fine sieve, into a large soup pot, with a lid. Discard the fibrous leftbehinds. Place your coconut milk mixture on the stove. Bring it up to a very slow simmer.
  9. Place a large sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add your oil to the pan and swirl it around. As soon as it ripples, add your kabocha to the pan and spread it out evenly over the bottom of the pan. You want to add a little bit of color to these little cubes. Season with a bit of salt and pepper. Saute these for about 5 minutes, until they get a bit of color and begin softening. Throw them into the coconut milk mixture.
  10. Place a large sauté pan (probably the same pan) over medium-high heat. Add your oil to the pan and swirl it around. As soon as it ripples, add your fish and shrimp to the pan and season with a little salt and pepper. Make sure it's spread out and evenly distributed along the bottom of the pan. We want to add a little color to the fish.
  11. While the fish and shrimp cook, add your clams and mussels to the coconut milk mixture and place the lid on top.
  12. After about 2 minutes of the fish/shrimp sautéing and the clams/mussels simmering, remove the lid, add the fish/shrimp to the coconut milk and replace the lid.
  13. Allow the entire mixture to continue simmering for about 4 to 5 more minutes. From the moment you started sautéing the kabocha, until the time you eat, only about 12 minutes should pass. It goes quickly, once it's all prepared and ready to go.
  14. At the last moment, stir in your fresh basil and serve!

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* Learn More: More about this recipe and nutrition ...


I love Kabocha squash! I think the calorie calculations might be a bit off though--If its 4g pro and 28g carbs, that would only be 128 calories, not 360 like the recipe says. My favorite is to just roast it in the oven covered in cinnamon and then top it with coconut butter!

 Chuck  5/27/2013


Hi Denise! Thank you for the kind words! I “sort of” grew up on Thai food, but NOTHING like what you describe. However, it is a big part of my upbringing and probably has a lot to do with my tastes, today! I also could never grow tired of Thai food (or Pizza!). It’s probably my favorite, but confess to not fully committing to that idea, until the day I VISIT Thailand. Someday! Yes, the kabocha custard is on my list of dishes to carb-down. Stay tuned for that! Also, thanks for the comments on the fish sauce. I lived in Mexico for 9 years and always felt a little weird trying to cook Mexican food. For the most part, cooking techniques are shared across all cultures (sauté, bake, steam, braise, etc.), but the ingredients used tend to require a bit of an indigenous touch, which explains why I’m playing it a bit safe with my selections, but I may do a “round 2” someday, and REALLY explore some interesting Thai dishes. Maybe … after my big trip! (to be planned … ) ;)

 DJ  4/21/2013


I have to tell you that I'm loving all of these Thai recipes! My mother is from Thailand and I grew up on Thai food, I could eat it every day and never get tired of it. Pizza, on the other hand, I've never cared for! I was that kid that brought weird food to school in her lunch box (like a pickled mustard green stir fry and rice) and washed it all down with a Hi-C grape juice box. :) I was not a popular kid. Haha! I died laughing over your fish sauce description from another post and I have to agree. I know what it is and how it's made but I choose to ignore all that and enjoy it for what it is because there is not flavor quite like it. There is such a difference between the brand of fish sauce (although in my mom's house, you'd have to pronounce it "fissalt"). Tiparos is a Thai brand but my mother can't tolerate it because it's so dark and pungent. She and I both prefer the Three Crabs brand and it should be available at a local Asian grocery store. It's much lighter in color and flavor. And fish sauce goes on everything in a Thai house (at least mine). We would slice a sour green mango thinly and put them in a bowl with some fish sauce to steep (so good!) or peel a grapefruit and let it sit in some fish sauce (sounds even weirder, but really good)! I'm thrilled to see you using this squash because my mom actually cooks with it quite a bit. Although her favorite thing to do with it is cut an opening in the top, scoop the innards and then fill it with an egg custard. Then she throws the whole thing into her steamer and steams it until the squash is soft and the custard is set. But I haven't eaten it much because I wasn't sure of the carbs in it, so thank you for your numbers on that! I'm very much enjoying your blog. The recipes look fantastic and your personality comes across as genuine and inviting. Thanks for all of your mad scientist work in the kitchen!

 Denise  4/21/2013