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To prep the beef: In a large bowl, stir together the curry paste, peanut butter, sugar, coconut milk, and salt, mixing well. Add the beef and stir to coat evenly. Cover and refrigerate for 2 hours.
Soak twelve 12-inch bamboo skewers in water to cover for 1 to 2 hours.
To prep the pumpkin: About 15 minutes before the beef is done marinating, fill a 4-quart saucepan half full with water and bring to a boil. Pour the ice-cold water into a large bowl and put the bowl into the sink. Add the pumpkin cubes to the boiling water and blanch for 1 minute. Using a fine-mesh skimmer, quickly transfer the pumpkin to the cold water to stop the cooking. Drain the pumpkin, pat dry, and transfer to a medium bowl. Add the salt and mix gently but thoroughly; set aside.
Divide the beef into twelve equal portions; do the same with the pumpkin. Working with one portion of beef and one of pumpkin, alternately thread them onto a soaked skewer. Push the beef and pumpkin snugly against one another to form a compact bundle toward the tip end of the skewer, leaving the blunt end bare to use as a handle. Repeat with the remaining meat and pumpkin portions and skewers.
Prepare a medium-high fire (400° to 450°F) in a charcoal grill using the two-zone method. Alternatively, light a full chimney of charcoal, and when the coals are ready, spread them out on the bottom of a hibachi for cooking over a medium fire (350° to 375°F).
While waiting for the grill to heat, make the sauce: In a 1-quart saucepan, combine the oil and curry paste over medium-high heat. When the oil has melted, stir until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the coconut milk and sugar and simmer for 3 minutes, stirring often. Add the fish sauce, then taste and adjust the seasoning with more fish sauce if needed. Keep warm.
When the coals are covered with white ash and the grate is hot, place the skewers in the middle of the grill halfway between the hot side and the hold side. Cook uncovered, brushing with the oil and flipping and turning the skewers as needed to cook evenly, until both the beef and the pumpkin are lightly charred, 10 to 12 minutes.
Transfer the skewers to a large platter. Drizzle the warm sauce over them and sprinkle with the peanuts first, followed by the chiles, and then the lime leaves. If using basil leaves, tear them into small pieces at the last minute. Serve immediately.
Reprinted with permission from Flavors of the Southeast Asian Grill: Classic Recipes for Seafood and Meats Cooked Over Charcoal by Leela Punyaratabandhu. Copyright© 2020 shesimmers.com. Photographs copyright ©2020 by David Loftus. Published by Ten Speed Press, an imprint of Penguin Random House.