So I’ve had these two pumpkins sitting on my kitchen counter since the third week of October. Fortunately, pumpkins are kind of self-contained and long-lasting, if you don’t carve them. I finally got around to doing anything with them this weekend. And by “anything” I mean, of course, “the best thing.”
First, I discovered something that is in retrospect self-evident but was very exciting. I put on a yucky old t-shirt and got ready for slimy upper arms and then I realized that since the time for jack-o-lanterns is long over, I didn’t have to stick my arm in the pumpkin! I could just whack that puppy in half and scoop it out like a civilized person!
I washed the seeds to get rid of most of the yucky stuff…
Then I sprinkled them liberally with salt and left them to dry overnight.
After browsing recipes online for forever, I decided to ditch them all and try my own. This is about creativity, right? So I decided I wanted to start with gochujang as my central ingredient, because I have been on a kick with this stuff in the last couple of months. It’s this fabulous spicy pepper paste used in a lot of Korean dishes, and I buy it at H-Mart. You can put it on anything and everything is improved by it. Seriously, get some. (And note: it also comes in squeezy bottles!)
But I knew applying gochujang directly to seeds was going to make them very painful to eat, if it didn’t start an outright fire in my oven. So I scrounged around in my fridge and came up with some dumpling sauce (which is NOT soy sauce, but a bit more complex and more oily). I also added garlic powder because more garlic is always okay.
I greased the bottom of a glass pan, using sesame oil to keep the flavors sort of in the same Asian family.
Then I baked at 300° for about 40 minutes, stirring every 10. I should say that the recipes I was looking at called for a full hour of baking, but at 40 minutes these guys already looked seriously done. Not burned, but almost.
I also just realized I forgot to take a picture of them when they came out of the oven, because I was too busy eating them. So here is a picture of a small portion on my desk at lunch today.
To be honest, most of the spiciness seems to have baked away, and they mostly taste salted. But they do have a really pleasant, very mild afterburn. All things considered I’m pleased, although next year I might triple the amount of spicy paste!