Yes, I said it. Did you know that everyone’s favourite squash has an even better and more nutritious cousin, the kabocha squash? It’s true and it’s wonderfully good for you. It’s the holidays and it is the perfect time to try out this vegetable, if you haven’t already. My favourite way of cooking it? Simmering it on the stovetop til it’s so tender you can cut it with a fork. My Japanese-inspired dashi-simmered kabocha squash.
I love love LOVE kabocha. Seriously. It’s so damn good for you. Never tried it before? Well, you’d better get on it since it’s still in season. As a comparison, it is similar to butternut squash. It is sweet, slightly starchy…but better than butternut squash. Why? Because it features less calories, is packed with morebetacarotine and Vitamin A and tastes just as damn good as its butternut cousin. In Japan, it is a staple vegetable and is dubbed as the “Japanese pumpkin”. It is perfect in soups, stews, mashed, fried in croquettes, or simmered atop the stove like how I’ll be cooking it today.
The way I cook my kabocha is simple and is similar to how it is traditionally cooked in Japan. It is simmered in a mixture of dashi, soy sauce, mirin, and brown sugar. When this heavenly umami-filled mixture is heated, it becomes syrupy and thick, thus, the flavour is super concentrated and the kabocha easily soaks it all up.
You may have trouble with evenly cooking everything but just be sure to flip all of your kabocha pieces onto the other side. If it’s easier for you, double all the liquids in the recipe so that they are barely covered (which is what I did this time) and save the remaining broth for another use (wait til you see my recipe for nabeyaki udon later next week using this broth!!!). Hey, when you simmer veggies, all if its nutrients are lost in the broth so it’s best not to toss it out! Just an FYI.
This recipe does make quite a bit, so feel free to cut the squash in half but keep the liquid measurements the same. It produces a strong umami flavour which is perfect for a side dish or addition to a bento box. Enjoy!
Dashi-simmered kabocha squash (adapted from Lunch in a Box)
What you’ll need:
- 1 small kabocha squash, about 2 pounds
- 1.5 cups dashi
- 2 tbsp mirin
- 1 tbsp brown sugar
- 1 tsp soy sauce
What you’ll need to do:
1. Thoroughly wash and rinse the kabocha before cutting, using a vegetable brush to remove any dirt.
2. Cut the kabocha in half and remove the seeds and stringy insides. Cut into quarters, and then into 1 inch chunks.
3. Put the kabocha chunks into the a medium-sized pot and mix together the dashi, mirin, sugar, and soy sauce, and pour into the pan with the kabocha.
4. Bring to a boil over high heat, turn the heat down to medium low. Simmer kabocha until almost tender, about 20 minutes.
5. Remove from heat and let it cool in the remaining liquid for 15 minutes to develop the flavor. Serve warm or at room temp. Serves 6-8 side dishes.