Autumn is a season of transitions. The weather gets cooler, colours shift from green to fiery shades of red, yellow and orange, and although we may feel some nostalgia for the summer fruits and veggies, we also celebrate the bounty of the new season! “Winter” squash is one of the stars of the season, with pumpkins appearing in your pie, on your porch and in your latte. But there are so many other varieties of winter squash than the ubiquitous pumpkin!
One that I discovered when living in Japan was the kabocha, also known as kabocha squash or Japanese pumpkin. It’s in season from the very end of summer and into the fall, and its texture is closer to that of the sweet potato than other varieties.
This Japanese recipe is perfect for kabocha, butternut and acorn squashes (we used acorn below). It uses the chamfering technique to cut some skin off, which allows for more effective heat transfer while cooking, and also lets more yummy broth in! It may take some muscle to cut the squash open, but your taste buds will thank you for your effort. As with most vegetarian Japanese recipes, this one can be vegan if you use vegan dashi (plant-based as opposed to fish-based broth).
- 1 kabocha squash around 800 grams
- 450 mL dashi
- kabocha seeds or sesame seeds to taste (optional)
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tbsp soy sauce
- 1 tsp sugar
- 2 tsp mirin
- Wash the outside of the squash, cut into 4 pieces and scoop out the seeds and fibres (don’t throw them out if you want to make crispy kabocha seeds!)Cut kabocha into 1.5 inch chunks and partially peel the skin.
- Put dashi broth and kabocha pieces in a pot over high heat and cook til just before boiling.
- Add the simmering ingredients and cover with a futoshibuta (drop lid). Simmer over medium heat for 15-20 minutes, until the liquid reduces by a third, or until kabocha is tender.
- If time allows, turn off the heat and let the kabocha steep in its broth. Garnish with sesame or crispy kabocha seeds, serve and enjoy!