Kua Taub Tsuag (Boiled Pumpkin)

It’s pumpkin season! With the cold season approaching us, all I want to do nowadays is stay home and curl up in a cozy blanket in front of the TV. Better yet, a nice warm pumpkin drink to go with it. I haven’t had boiled pumpkin in ages! It’s funny how being away from home makes you miss Hmong food so much, especially dishes you’ve had growing up that reminds you so much of the people you love. To me, boiled pumpkin makes me think of my grandma, Bee.


My grandma often made this when she was still around. She’d eat this served in a bowl along with other Hmong dishes. As a young child, I remember the way she would confidently cut off the pumpkin skin or rind with her large knife. The rind would fly straight across the room each time she cut off another piece of the thick, protective outer layer. It always looked scary watching her do this because I would get so afraid of her cutting off one of her fingers on accident! She was a pro of course, so that never happened, thankfully!



Memories of her prompted me to make kua taub tsuag. There’s something about making a dish you grew up with that makes you feel so much closer to home, especially to those who’ve passed on. Finding the right pumpkin to make kua taub tsuag was challenging for me because I’ve never had to do that before. I had to phone my parents and get their expert advice on this one. They told me that the ugly and old pumpkins taste the best, so I did my best to look for that. How do you (yes, you the reader!) pick the best pumpkin for kua taub tsuag?


Boiled pumpkin is a signature side dish for Hmong people that can taste sweet or bland, depending on how you like it. Sam calls it “old people food”, but I think he’s missing out! It’s most popular among older folks indeed but Hmong people of all ages eat and/or drink this. Growing up, I’ve only really liked the pumpkin broth and have never actually enjoyed eating the pumpkin itself. I can now proudly say that I eat and appreciate the taste of boiled pumpkin so much! I seriously can’t believe it took me so long to fall in love with it. Does anyone else feel the same way?


I really like adding kua taub tsuag to my plate of rice. It also never goes wrong with any Hmong dish. What do you enjoy the most about boiled pumpkin? What memories does it take you back to? Thanks for following along and I’ll see you guys in my next post! 🙂

Kua Taub (Boiled Pumpkin)
Serves 5
A classic Hmong side dish that exemplifies the simplicity of Hmong cuisine.
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Prep Time
5 min
Cook Time
15 min
Total Time
20 min
Prep Time
5 min
Cook Time
15 min
Total Time
20 min
  1. half of a medium-sized pumpkin
  2. 6-7 cups of water
  3. sugar, optional
  1. Pour water into a cooking pot and let it come to a boil over high heat.
  2. While waiting for the water to come to a boil, scoop out the insides.
  3. Use your knife to cut off the skin or rind of the pumpkin.
  4. Cut the pumpkin into medium-sized cubes then rinse with water.
  5. Once your water is boiling, put in the cubed pumpkin and cook for 15 minutes or until pumpkin is soft.
  6. Optional: Add sugar to your desired taste.
  1. Yield: 1 side dish
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  1. HAHA! I totally agree with Sam on this one. It’s old people food. But I also remember eating it as a child. I loved it when my Mom added sugar. My mom always used pumpkin squash to make her kua taub. Where did you find your ugly pumpkin in Utah?

    1. Jeanny, I looked around in multiple grocery stores. I’m sure you can get it anywhere. I went shopping one night and decided to hit up Walmart and got lucky. Picked the ugliest pumpkin and it tasted better than the looking ones I’ve bought. Finding the right pumpkin is a hit or miss for me! If you have any expert advice, please share! 🙂

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