Labu Lodeh

Labu Lodeh

It has been raining pumpkins here in the prairie. Everywhere I go I see mounds and mounds of pumpkins and squashes. Believe it or not, despite all these pumpkins, we had a shortage of canned pumpkins a little earlier in the season. Go figure! Like I said earlier, apart from canned pumpkins there are fresh pumpkins everywhere. So what to do with all those lovely pumpkins? It is time to get some Asian cooking going.

Some of you may be familiar with the spicy Indonesian dish of vegetables simmered in coconut milk known as sayur lodeh. This dish is also very popular in Malaysia and Singapore. While it is mainly made up of vegetables, a little shrimp paste or dried shrimp is added to the spice paste to give the sauce extra flavor. This can certainly be omitted to keep it vegetarian.

Labu Lodeh
Sayur lodeh is often served with lontong, which is a log of compressed rice cut into cakes. To make lontong requires 2 to 3 hours of boiling partially cooked rice packed and wrapped in banana leaves. I think we will have to leave that for another time. Pan fried tofu and bean threads are commonly added to sayur lodeh. Pumpkin or “labu” in Malay, completes my version of this dish.

Labu Lodeh
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Serves: 4 servings
  • 3 tbsp vegetable oil
  • ½ pack (6 oz/170g) extra firm tofu, sliced into ½-in x ½-in x1-in pieces
  • ¾ cup (180ml) coconut milk
  • ¼ small (8 oz/225g) pumpkin, cubed
  • 8 oz (225g) cabbage, sliced
  • 4 oz (115g) long beans, cut into 2 inch lengths
  • 2 red chilies, seeded and sliced into ½ inch pieces
  • 1 bunch bean thread, soaked to soften (optional)
  • 1 tsp salt
Spice Paste
  • 1 small onion, peeled and cut into small pieces
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 1 stalk lemon grass (only the bottom 4 inches), sliced
  • 1 inch knob fresh ginger
  • ¼ cup (30g)dried shrimp, rinsed and soaked to soften
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • ½ tsp ground turmeric
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  1. Blend onions, garlic, lemongrass, ginger, and dried shrimps with ¼ cup (60ml) water into a smooth paste. Remove and pour into a small bowl. Mix in ground coriander, cumin, turmeric, and chili powder.
  2. In a non-stick fry pan heat 1 tablespoon vegetable oil. Pan fry tofu until golden on all sides. Remove and set aside.
  3. In a large pot, heat remaining 2 tablespoon vegetable oil. Add spice paste and fry for 5 to 6 minutes until fragrant. Stir constantly so that it will not burn.
  4. Add coconut milk and ¾ cup (180ml) water. Bring to a boil.
  5. Add pumpkin, cabbage, pan fried tofu, and salt. Bring it back up to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover, and let it simmer for 5 minutes.
  6. Add long beans, red chilies, and bean threads (if using). Allow it to cook for another 5 minutes.
  7. Remove and serve warm.

Labu Lodeh
Labu Lodeh is substantial enough to make a tasty lunch on its own.

Labu Lodeh

Many thanks to everyone who read my previous post and participated in the little trivia. It was fun to read your guesses. I must mentioned that Denise made three separate guesses and came quite close to the answer. She mentioned seeds, grain, and tea. The answer is sesame seed toaster. This is a really useful tool to have if you use a lot of sesame seeds like I do. Sesame seeds tend to pop when you toast them and this little basket keeps all the sesame seeds inside. The basket is only 4½-inches x 3½” x 1¼” in size.

Labu Lodeh

Today’s trivia is going to be simple. This beautiful flower is not only pleasing to the eye but serves a useful function. What do you think it is used for?

Labu Lodeh
NOTE: This post was updated on October 30th, 2013 with new pictures. Some minor changes were also made to the recipe.

Enjoy…..and have a wonderful day! :-)

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  1. says

    Thks for the add @ FB, Biren! I’m following u now & hope u’ll do the same to keep up with the latest posts :)

    I love Sayur Lodeh but haven’t tried pumpkin style. Looks good.

    The flower looks nice. Is it a vase??

    • Biren says

      You are most welcomed. I will hop over to your blog a little later and do the same. Thanks for following.

      I was surprised at how well the pumpkin worked in the lodeh. Although I made a double batch, it was all gone. I did put some in myhubby’s and boys’ bentos for lunch the next day. We do eat a lot of veges.

      Good guess! The flower is pretty, isn’t it? It comes in a myriad of colors.

  2. denise @ quickies on the dinner table says

    So close, but not close enough LOL

    Oh, I love lodeh, but whenever I cook it, my mum and I will bicker over the mung bean vermicelli – she loves it and I uh, don’t 😀 Love all the veggies in it and you already know how much I love pumpkin :)

    Ok I, gonna go with Shirley on this one….I wore myself out on the last guessing game ROFL. It’s a VASE!!!

    • Biren says

      You are such a good sport Denise! I so appreciate your enthusiasm and participation. Alisha of the Ardent Epicure said she was in tears reading your comments in the previous post :) Must be ROFL!!!

      I cook sayur lodeh quite often and seldom with the same mix. Only cabbage is a sure thing. I am a big believer in buying and cooking whatever is in season. I do like adding tofu (deep fried) and sometimes tempeh. Long beans, if I can get some. The bean threads (vermicelli) makes it almost like a soto, just not so soupy. Soto is another dish I am thinking of next. I must go get some of that coriander leaves, or something. You know, the ones that is almost like a cross between cilantro and celery. Can only find it at the Asian grocery store.

      Good guess! I am coming up with all kinds of ideas as I read the comments 😉

  3. says

    Have not had lontong in ages! This would be yummy with lontong, not forgetting the sambal belacan too! Is it a vase or a cute drainer? I never would have guessed that the previous one is a sesame seed toaster!

    • Biren says

      I had some lontong with beef rendang at a gathering recently and it was, oh so delicious! I believe the lontong can be found frozen here in the US. It is very time cnsuming to make your own.

      Thanks for participating.You are all giving me ideas of what I may be able to use it for :)

  4. says

    This dish looks like it’s calling my name. Yum! You always post the most interesting and tasty dishes Biren! And as for that flower, I’m not sure! I’ll have to head out on the internet and do some searching. The only one I can think of is hibiscus because it’s edible.

    • Biren says

      Awww…Julie, you are the sweetest! I am a big believer in buying and cooking seasonal produce. It is also fun to add a little twist to classics :)

      Thanks for participating. Happy searching…..

  5. says

    HA! I think I need a cup of coffee. I just read the comments and realized I needed to wake up a bit more. Scrap hibiscus. Maybe some type of hummingbird feeder?

    • Biren says

      That’s a good guess! Hummingbirds are amazing and just so fun to watch. I am always so fascinated at how fast they flap their wings and it is like they almost kinda stand up when they approach the feeder or a flower. I used to see more of them in Colorado. Only saw it once here and it so happened I had my camera in hand. Unfortunately, they are just too fast for me to take a good shot. Have to get them in sports mode.

  6. says

    Colourful, healthy and delicious dish….love it. Gosh…I love to see all those pumpkins in the field. Would be so fun kicking them around like football…haha. Beautiful flower. I would use it to serve ice cream 😀

    • Biren says

      Thanks Mary! This pumpkin patch is a “pick your own” kind of patch. It’s a little dusty since it has been nice and dry with lots of sunshine. Just the kind of weather I like. I don’t know about kicking them around as these guys are about 1.5 to 2 feet in diameter :)

      Thanks for participating. A scoop of ice cream would look so pretty in the middle :)

  7. says

    Very clever idea adding pumpkin in Sayur Lodeh…looks so delicious:)
    I must try to get that sesame seed toaster when my daughter goes to Japan end of this year.
    Beautiful flower love the color too! I think this is a tea strainer :)

    • Biren says

      Thanks Ann! The sesame seed toaster is very useful. I think you will enjoy using it. There is another version that is 3 to 4 inch round with a solid metal base. This version is a little more challenging to find. I think my hubby bought this in Tokyo. Your daughter should be able to find it at Takashimiya or Isetan in any of the big cities in Japan. My favorite place for kitchen stuff is Namba in Osaka. Prices are more reasonable and lots to choose from.

      Good guess Ann! I am getting all kinds of ideas from all my wonderful readers :)

    • Biren says

      I think you can certainly add some meat but this is almost a vegetarian kind of dish.

      That sesame toaster is a useful tool to have in the kitchen.

  8. says

    I’ve never heard of this before! But it looks oh so delicious. And the sight of pumpkin patches always make me giggle w glee… they’re just so cute.

  9. says

    What a beautiful dish, so colorful…I love these spices. And I really like the flexibility of being able to adjust the ingredients seasonally :)
    Love the sesame seed roaster, it would probably be great for roasting any bulk spices.
    OK, as for the flower…hard to tell from the photo if it is glass or heavy plastic. So I am going to leap here and say it is a garden sprinkler head? I have a special one for flower beds that is shaped like a daisy, not as pretty as your flower though :)

    • Biren says

      Thanks Alisha! The spices makes the dish so warm, perfect for this time of the year. I love buying and cooking seasonal produce and it was easy to incorporate the pumpkins into this dish.

      I never thought of using it for toasting other spices but that’s a great idea! I can think of a lot of spices I would like to toast. Thanks for the suggestion!

      Thanks for being such a sport in my guessing game :) That thing is made of heavy plastic. A very good guess indeed!

  10. says

    Hey Biren, this dish looks amazing. I hope your family knows how lucky they are to come home to this type of food (smile).
    Ooh, and I think that flower is a for keeping tea matter from going into the mug, no;)?!

  11. says

    Raining pumpkins!!!
    this dish looks bad ass Biren. The spices, pumpkin, and Asian flavor sound so wonderful. I think I might have this at a Malaysian place or in Thailand. I hope I’m right!

    That’s so fun for a trivia game! Too bad I missed the last one. This one I would say…a tea cup!….?

  12. says

    Hey Biren,

    That picture with all those pumpkins look so fun. I can imagine my kids running from pumpkin to pumpkin trying to decide on the perfect one.

    Your dish sounds divine! I love the combination of lemongrass and coconut milk. The green beans and red chillier add such great colours to this dish. I know I’d be going for seconds, maybe even thirds of this beautiful dish.

    Your trivia games are so fun. Thanks for teaching me about the sesame seed toaster. I’ve never seen that before. I’m going to guess that the flower is some kind of really fancy flower pot. Have a great weekend!

  13. says

    the pics of the pumpkins is goregous, I have three big babies sitting on my island right now…perfect fall dish and the flavors are awesome, I love the spice paste-dried shrimps are awesome
    I love the sesame toaster

  14. says

    Good, healthy ingredients in this dish. I need to find some cooking pumpkins and try out some savory, healthful dishes. This may be the first one I start with. :)

    You’re right about pumpkin puree, though. So freaky expensive and was very difficult to find throughout the year in the markets (canned).


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