Sweet Chili & Bacon Zucchini Boats with Thai filling, first and foremost, need a large zucchini to start. They don’t sell giant zucchinis in stores for some reason. I suppose it’s for commercial reasons, and they aren’t as tender as small zucchinis. We grew up with zucchinis of all sizes, they grow so fast! I was excited to have a large zucchini growing in the garden. You might be able to buy them at a local farmer’s market, but they are so incredibly easy to grow!
A full grown zucchini or courgette is called marrow, which are also known as squash, courgette, summer squash, so many names! The first thing I think about when stuffing a large zucchini, is a classic meat loaf. This makes it easy to clean up also, but I hate meatloaf, so I needed to come up with something else. I love Thai food, and this recipe is definitely not Thai food, but very much Thai flavoured. The ginger and garlic, with cilantro/coriander, lime, chilli, and the secret to this dish, the Thai sweet chilli sauce. So good together! What about the bacon on the Thai Zucchini Boats? Not Thai at all, but oh so good when it caramelises at the end, oozing in a sticky Sweet Chilli Sauce, almost like a candied bacon. Plus the bacon protects the meat from drying out, while adding a delicious flavour.
Now when you choose a vermicelli, don’t buy a rice vermicelli, but a bean vermicelli, as it holds its shape better. This recipe only needs a little bit, overcome the temptation to add more, because it will cause the meat to lose its shape. If you’re not sure what streaky bacon is, it’s just regular bacon in North America, and much of the world actually. Here in Australia, our bacon is this giant ham thing, like a back bacon part regular bacon. It’s very good, but boy do I miss regular bacon.
You can omit the bacon from this recipe, but my suggestions is that you make it with the bacon, and then try to remove it while eating. I tried that, but the bacon added so much flavour, I couldn’t eat the crispy goodness fast enough! This recipe is like a Thai meatloaf stuffed zucchini. It isn’t your ordinary Zucchini Boat, it’s a Sweet Chili & Bacon Wrapped Thai Zucchini Boat. Now that’s a mouthful. Bon Appetit! Приятного аппетита!
Thai Zucchini Boats
- 1 very large zucchini
- 500 g/1 pound lean ground beef
- 2 cloves garlic
- small knob of ginger chopped finely
- 1 onion chopped
- 1 grated carrot
- 1 small red capsicum finely diced
- 50 g bean vermicelli
- 2 bunches cilantro chopped
- small bunch Thai basil chopped
- 1 lime zested and squeezed for juice
- 1 egg
- 1 red chilli deseeded and sliced
- 1 tablespoons fish sauce
- 1 tablespoons light soy sauce
- 1/3 cup Thai Sweet Chilli Sauce for mix
- 250 g streaky bacon optional
- Thai sweet chilli sauce for basting
Heat the oil in a large frying pan or wok. Fry the onion, chillies, garlic and ginger until translucent and lightly cooked.
Add the grated carrot and red capsicum and quickly fry together for about 3-4 minutes until they soften. Remove mixture from heat and allow to cool.
In a bowl, prepare bean vermicelli in hot water according to instructions. Snip with scissors into pieces. Drain and set aside.
Preheat oven to 190°C/375°F
Prepare the giant zucchini. Slice in half lengthways. Using a spoon or melon baller, scoop out the insides, leaving space about 1/2 inch from the edge, creating a boat. You can chop up the zucchini flesh and set aside to mix in with the beef mixture. (optional)
In a bowl, mix together ground beef, fried onion mixture, optional zucchini pieces, egg, lime juice and zest, cilantro, basil, fish sauce, soy sauce, Thai Sweet Chilli Sauce and bean vermicelli.
Stuff the zucchini boats with the meat mixture and pack down together tightly. The meat mixture should be stuffed higher than the outside of the zucchini, creating a raised effect.
Layer strips of streaky bacon across the top of the zucchini boat, and baste generously with Thai sweet chilli sauce.
Place on a baking tray and cover with foil and place into the oven for 50 minutes. At the 40 minute mark, check with a fork that zucchini is tender and soft, but not soggy, and that the middle of the meat is no longer pink. Using a thermometer, it should be at least 160°F/70°C If it's still hard or pink, baste and return to oven again for 10 minutes an check again and repeat if necessary until its cooked. The bacon only needs 10 minutes to crisp up or it will burn, so only remove the foil when the zucchini is cooked, remember, for the last 10 minutes only!