Kabocha Squash

An Oriental variety of squash, sometimes called 'Japanese Pumpkin', with a deep green and shaped rather like a small pumpkin, though often it has somewhat deeper depressions than a pumpkin. Depending on the ripeness and variety, it might also have longitudinal yellow streaks. The flesh is orange. Being a winter type of squash, it stores well. 

Kabocha squash can be used in any recipe that calls for pumpkin or butternut squash, though it's less sweet.  It makes a particularly good soup, simmered with chicken broth, ginger, and garlic. An excellent source of beta carotene, the precursor to vitamin A, is kabocha's prime nutrient, along with vitamin C, iron and potassium. Also present are folic acid, calcium, and trace B vitamins.

TO BAKE: Simply wash the squash and place, whole on a baking dish. Bake at 400 for 50 to 60 minutes. To shorten the baking time, cut the squash in half with a very firm knife. Sakata recommends placing the knife or cleaver on the squash, slightly off center to avoid the stem. Then, with a hammer or mallet, pound the knife where the blade joins the handle until the squash splits in half. Scoop out the seeds, brush cut areas with a little canola oil and place cut side down on a lightly oiled baking dish. The squash bakes in about 40 to 50 minutes at 400 (375 for pyrex.) The flesh can then be scooped out with a large spoon. The cooked kabocha is so deliciously sweet that it needs none of the usual fats and sweeteners traditionally added to bland squashes.

TO STEAM: Use a very firm chef's knife to cut squash in half, scoop out seeds, and lay cut side down on cutting board. Using both hands with the knife in a horizontal position peel off the skin. Cut squash into cubes and place in a steamer with sufficient water. Turn heat to high and steam for 7 to 10 minutes.

TO BRAISE: Cut into cubes as above and add to stews or soups the last 10 minutes of cooking.

kabocha sun-dried tomato soup

2 oz.  sun-dried tomatoes

1/2 teaspoon dried thyme leaves

1 1/2 cups boiling water

1 3/4 teaspoon salt

1 2 ½ lb. (approximately) kabocha squash, peeled and cut into bite-size pieces

Freshly ground black pepper

1/2 lb.  red or white rose potatoes, unpeeled, cut into bite-size pieces (you may substitute Yukon gold potatoes)

6 cup water

1 stalk celery, diced

1 stalk celery, diced

1/2 cup chopped celery leaves (optional)

1 large onion (about 1 lb.) chopped

1 large tomato (about 3/4 lb.) chopped

2 cloves garlic, finely minced


1/4 cup water

Put sun-dried tomatoes in a small bowl. Pour boiling water over to soften for 5 to 10 minutes.

2 Remove the tomatoes and set aside. Reserve the soak water for a future use or allow it to cool and drink it. It's quite delicious.

3 Combine kabocha, potatoes, celery, celery leaves, tomato, dried thyme leaves, salt, pepper and 6 cups of water in a large stock pot, cover, and bring to a boil over high heat. Turn heat down to simmer, and cook for 10 minutes. Fork test squash for tenderness. There should be no resistance. Turn off heat.

4 While soup is simmering combine the last stalk of celery, garlic and 1./4 cup of water in a large skillet or wok and sautéed until tender, about 5 or 6 minutes, adding more water if needed.

5 Add the softened sun-dried tomatoes and sautéed onions and celery to stock pot and warm through.

6 Adjust seasonings to taste, and serve with some hearty multi-grain bread.