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Butternut squash is a well-known base for casserole dishes and desserts, but few people think of it as the go-to ingredient for stir fries. In Cambodia, however, (and in rural parts in particular) butternut squash is mostly associated with savory dishes that get fried in a wok. In this article, we will show you a simple and delectable method of stir frying butternut squash with pork (the way my family has always done it). The ingredients are few and easy to source, the preparation takes 30 minutes at most, and the result is a hearty stir fry that will fill an empty stomach quickly. Most importantly, this stir fry is absolutely delicious — the umami flavor of the pork and seasonings makes a perfect complement for the sweet, tender squash. You can modify this easy recipe by adding vegetables of your choice (try broccoli or kale!), or by changing the protein to chicken instead of pork.
Butternut Squash Stir Fry Ingredients
- Crush the garlic using the flat side of a knife, then mince it finely and set aside.
- Cut the green onions into ¼-inch pieces.
- Julienne the butternut squash into 2-inch-long, 1/4-inch-wide pieces.
- Heat oil in a wok or skillet over medium heat.
- Throw in the minced garlic and fry until golden.
- Add the ground pork to the frying pan and stir.
- Add MSG, sugar, fish sauce, and oyster sauce, then stir everything together in the pan.
- Add the julienned butternut squash when the pork looks cooked.
- Continue frying for 7 minutes (or until the squash becomes noticeably soft) while stirring the ingredients continuously. Then, remove from heat and serve.
When should you not eat butternut squash?
You should not eat butternut squash when there are obvious signs that it’s spoiled. Signs of spoilage on butternut squash include the following:
- Mold: Mold can appear on the skin and flesh of butternut squash. If you see mold on the squash, it’s not safe for consumption and you should discard it.
- Odd smell: If the butternut squash smells sour, rancid, or in any way different than its usual sweet, nutty, scent, it’s likely spoiled and you should not use it to make a stir fry.
- Texture change: The squash should not be overly slimy, sticky, or soft. Instead, a fresh butternut squash should be relatively dry and hard when you cut it; if it isn’t, check for other signs of spoilage (such as mold or a rotten smell) and discard if needed.
If your butternut squash displays any of the aforementioned signs of rot, don’t use it for the stir fry — it’s not fit for consumption and should be thrown out.
What brings out the flavor of butternut squash?
The umami taste of fish sauce brings out the flavor of butternut squash in our stir fry. Umami intensifies sweetness, which is the primary flavor of butternut squash. The savouriness we get from fish sauce also highlights the taste of the ground pork that we use in this stir fry. At the same time, the green onions — which are introduced at the end, when the stir fry is cooked — add a pungent, mildly spicy kick to the dish. You can try this stir fry with a side of pickled mustard greens if you want to bring some tanginess to the balance.
What meat goes well with butternut squash?
Pork goes well with butternut squash because its mild savory taste pairs well with the squash’s gentle sweetness. In contrast, beef tends to complement stronger, sharper and more pungent flavors. In our recipe, we’ve used ground pork, although you can easily get away with chopping any pork cut (depending on your preference for fattiness) and use it in this same recipe instead.
Do you peel butternut squash?
Yes, you peel butternut squash — at least for our stir fry recipe. In the butternut squash stir fry preparation method we’ve shared above, the squash is meant to be gentle and buttery; for this reason, the skin must go. However, the skin is certainly edible, so you needn’t peel it if you’re working with a different recipe and it doesn’t specifically say that you must; once cooked, you can eat the skin.
That said, some winter squash recipes (particularly where the squash is baked or steamed) require the skin to stay on for the duration of cooking. For example, the squash has to be cooked whole, with skin, in this buttercup squash custard dessert recipe.
Butternut Squash Stir Fry: Parting Words
We hope you’ll enjoy this butternut squash stir fry recipe! It’s sure a great way to get your veggies in while still enjoying a delicious and healthy meal. The best part? It doesn’t take long to throw this stir fry together, so it’s the ideal dish for busy weeknights. Give it a try and let us know what you think by leaving a comment below!