Shaun King, executive chef for Las Vegas’ Momofuku restaurant, recently developed a new vegan dish: “ribs” made from pumpkin. The Pumpkin Ribs dish features red kuri squash (also known as Hokkaido pumpkin) that is cured with a mixture of spices, then smoked and roasted for one hour before being fried—a process which King explained develops a meaty, fork-tender texture that replicates its animal-based counterpart. “While most people think of pumpkin as just being a Halloween decoration, I wanted to highlight the fruit in a new way,” King told VegNews. “The inspiration behind this dish actually came from Kerry Clasby at Intuitive Forager, our farmers’ market resource. She brought us a wide variety of fall squashes, and I wanted to try the dish on her first since she is vegetarian.” The dish is coated in a barbeque sauce that King makes with a base of carrot juice spiced with smoked guajillo peppers. In addition to King, chefs around the country are experimenting with creating meat-like vegan dishes from whole fruit and vegetables. At New York City’s Ducks Eatery, the watermelon ham—an entire watermelon smoked and spiced to resemble a whole ham—is available this holiday season. King’s Pumpkin Ribs will be on the menu at Momofuku’s Las Vegas outpost in The Cosmopolitan hotel until the end of February.
Photo courtesy of Andrew Bezek/ Momofuku