Thai pumpkins are medium to large in size, averaging 8 to 14 pounds, and have a flattened, round-to-ovate shape. The rind is deeply ribbed, textured, firm, and thin, sometimes covered in a powdery coating. When young, Thai pumpkins are dark green, covered in tan speckles and mottling, and as the pumpkin matures in storage, it transitions into a uniform tan to light brown hue. Underneath the rind, the flesh is dense, bright orange-yellow, and has a drier consistency, encasing a small central cavity filled with ivory seeds and stringy fibers. Thai pumpkins develop a smooth, creamy, and soft texture when cooked and have a rich, sweet, and subtle, spice-like flavor.
Thai pumpkins are a good source of vitamins A and C, which are antioxidants that strengthen the immune system, reduce inflammation, and boost collagen production within the skin. The pumpkins also provide potassium to help balance fluid intake manganese to activate enzymes in the body, and some fiber to stimulate the digestive tract.
Thai pumpkins are best suited for cooked applications such as steaming, sautéing, roasting, baking, simmering, and frying. The pumpkins thin skin does not need to be peeled before consumption and is considered edible once cooked. When prepping, Thai pumpkins can be cut in half, deseeded, and then cubed, sliced, or quartered. The seeds can also be saved and roasted as a salty snack. Thai pumpkins can be used as a substitute in recipes calling for kabocha or butternut squash, and are frequently incorporated into soups, stews, and curries, or sliced and mixed into stir-fries. In Thailand, Thai pumpkins are commonly stir-fried with eggs to create a nutritious meal for children. The thick flesh can also be battered and fried into tempura, roasted and stirred into grain bowls, cooked into a gratin, or steamed as a simple side dish. In addition to savory applications, Thai pumpkins can be used to flavor baked goods, cooked into a custard, or made into a puree for extended use. Thai pumpkins pair well with coconut milk, Chile peppers, aromatics such as ginger, garlic, and onions, limes, lemongrass, herbs such as Thai basil, mint, and cilantro, carrots, bell peppers, and green beans. Whole Thai pumpkins will keep for 1 to 3 months when stored in a cool and dry place.
Thai pumpkins are available year-round in Thailand.