Can you believe it’s almost February? I’m trying to be a little better about eating seasonally. If I can help it, I’m trying not to get tomatoes in the cold winter months when they are obviously not locally in season. But guess what loves the winter? Squash! Kabocha squash, also known as Japanese pumpkin, is related to the pumpkin but it’s sweeter and less stringy. It’s also really starchy, but in a really delicious way.
The first time I had kabocha was when I was babysitting. The mother tried to roast it whole and didn’t like the way it turned out. She left it on the counter and said I could have some if I wanted, but she didn’t think it had turned out well. Even her failed recipe for roasted kabocha yielded a delicious result. I needed to learn more about this squash! I read up on it and realized I’ve had it a few times in Thai food as “pumpkin curry” when I knew I wasn’t eating any kind of pumpkin I recognized. This recipe was taken from Saveur magazine. I made Thai curry with the first half, but the kabocha I got was humongous, so I needed to figure out what to do with the remaining half.
Soy-braised Kabocha Squash
Based on this recipe from Saveur
2 Tbsp canola oil
1/2 inch fresh ginger (I used about 1 teaspoon, which is a little less than they called for, but I was having some ginger troubles)
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 scallions, minced (I have taken to using scissors on my scallions, it’s so much easier than going at them with a knife!)
1/4 cup chicken or vegetable broth
3 Tbsp soy sauce
1 Tbsp rice vinegar
1 Tbsp sugar
1/2 medium-large kabocha squash, peeled, seeded, and cut into quarter-inch wedges (see note below the recipe for tips on how to peel this squash)*
Heat oil in a pan over medium-high heat. Add the ginger, garlic, and scallions and cook for a couple minutes until fragrant. Add broth, soy sauce, vinegar, and sugar. Simmer and add the squash. Cook until softened, turning over once, about 8 minutes. Lower the heat and cover, cook about 15 minutes until desired tenderness, flipping one more time to make sure it’s all evenly coated. Top with scallions. Enjoy!
*Peeling the squash
The best way I’ve found (via the internet) to peel a kabocha is to first cut it into large wedges, then lay each wedge on its flat side and cut off the peel in pieces, trying to forfeit the least amount of flesh but also making sure not to cut yourself in the process. The peel is too thick to successfully remove with a peeler, so this method has proven the most successful for me.