Pumpkins are for dinner, not just Halloween.
Yes, they may make for great spooky decorations and are excellent fun to smash or shoot with a high-powered rifle (speaking from experience), but still by far the best thing you can do with a pumpkin is cook it and eat it.
Vietnam has a few pockets of pumpkin-growing areas, so naturally there are a few dishes here that make use of the jack-o-lantern plant, alongside Western pumpkin dishes.
So, once you’ve gotten sick of looking at pumpkins adorning the heads of undead horsemen this Halloween, check out some of these pumpkin-based treats. But not pumpkin-spiced lattes. Those truly are from the underworld.
Stir-fried pumpkin with spring onions
A winter classic at cơm bình dân places – essentially, cheap buffets – this sweet and hearty dish accompanies the savoury fare on offer at cơm bình dâns brilliantly, with some even mixing beef directly into the dish.
Be warned though, not many local joints will be serving this dish until the temperature drops a few degrees in winter.
The Vietnamese don’t have a monopoly on sweet salads, as this fragrant offering from Delisa attests to.
Featuring lettuce, almonds, feta cheese and of course the star of the show, pumpkin, while this may not be a traditional Vietnamese dish, it’s a great healthy way to get your pumpkin fix in Hanoi. The chunks of pumpkin are also kept surprisingly crunchy, so you won’t be faced with a soggy mess of a salad.
Delisa is at 8 Lý Đạo Thành, Hoan Kiem District
Spend any time at all in a teacher’s room in a school in Vietnam and you’ll soon learn the Vietnamese love munching on seeds. While sunflower seeds may rule the roost, their pumpkin cousins are also hugely popular.
They’re a savoury and crunchy snack ideal for passing the time between classes or any two appointments really. Around Tết (Lunar New Year) it’s common to be offered some sort of seed to nibble on when entering anyone’s house, including pumpkin.
While Vietnam does have its own version of pumpkin soup, sometimes you can’t beat a creamy home comfort.
Luckily, it’s 2018 and Hanoi is a cosmopolitan city so it’s not hard to find a bowl of hot, creamy pumpkin soup that will have you nostalgic for fireworks, toffee apples and enticing the police to chase you around town. Basically, good old-fashioned Halloween fun.
The version at Gia Ngu restaurant is a delight and a snip for a meal in such a refined setting, with the addition of lemongrass giving it a bit of a kick and local flavour.
Gia Ngu is at 27-29 Gia Ngu Street, Hoan Kiem District
Last but not least, it’s time to end this ode to all things pumpkin with some dessert, and nothing says dessert in Vietnam like chè.
Featuring pumpkin puree, coconut milk and jelly, pumpkin chè is a light and sweet snack, perfect for after a heavy lunch or as a refreshing bowl all on its own.
You can find some pumpkin chè at Quan Che Tu Nhien at 32 Han Thuyen Street, Hoan Kiem District.