Tuesday, March 24

What is Kabocha Squash?

kabocha squash flesh

You've seen it at the market. You've picked it up and wondered, What is this? An odd shaped acorn squash? Then you saw the sign: Kabocha squash, and thought, How the heck do you pronounce that?

What is Kabocha squash? A relative newcomer to the US squash scene, Kabocha squash (pronounced kuh-boh-cha) is a hard winter squash available from late fall to late spring. Its hard, dull, bumpy dark green shell is marked with pale celery green striations. It's rather heavy for its size (usually 2-3 pounds) and has a stumpy grayish colored stalk. Kabocha squash has a brilliant yellow-orange flesh, like a pumpkin's. Both the texture and flavor of Kabocha squash is similar to a sweet potato: the soft, moist, fluffy flesh is surprisingly sweet and slightly nutty.

Kabocha squash is a centuries-old variety of Japanese squash that in Japan is often referred to as a Japanese pumpkin. Apparently it was brought to Japan from Cambodia by the Spanish in the 1500s and is used in dishes ranging from soup to sushi.

As its rich orange flesh indicates, Kabocha squash is high in beta carotene, a powerful health-promoting antioxidant. One 3/4's cup serving of cooked Kabocha squash is only 30 calories yet provides 30% of your daily recommended vitamin C and a whopping 70% of vitamin A. It's also high in dietary fiber, especially if you eat the skin, which turns soft when cooked.

roasted Kabocha squash with an orange-honey-ginger glaze

Kabocha squash is so naturally delicious, that you could eat it simply roasted and unadorned. But why not have a little more fun? I created this recipe for Roasted Kabocha Squash with Orange-Honey Glaze a few weeks ago and can't stop making it. Roasting the Kabocha squash renders it irresistibly tender, while the sweet and spicy orange honey glaze enhances its inherent sugary goodness. The sprinkling of sunflower seeds adds just the right amount of crunch with a hint of smoky nuttiness.

Roasted Kabocha Squash with an Orange Honey Glaze
Serves 4
Print recipe only here.

Squash:
1 Kabocha squash, cut in half, seeded, and sliced into 1-inch thick slices
2-3 teaspoons olive oil for brushing squash

Glaze:
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 shallot, diced
3 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons water
2 teaspoons lime juice
1/4 teaspoon rice wine vinegar
2 tablespoons orange juice
2 teaspoons orange zest
2 teaspoons fresh minced ginger
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
salt, to taste
1/4 cup store-bought roasted, salted sunflower seeds

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Line a baking pan with tinfoil (for easy clean up). Brush the flesh of the squash with olive oil, and roast flesh side down for 30-35 minutes, or until tender.

In a small skillet over medium heat, add 2 teaspoons olive oil. Add shallots and saute until lightly golden, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat. In a small bowl, combine remaining ingredients EXCEPT sunflower seeds. Whisk until smooth.

Just before you're ready to serve the squash, add the sauce to the pan of sauteed shallots. Heat on medium until the sauce begins to bubble and becomes lightly syrupy, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat and drizzle over the cooked squash. Sprinkle with sunflower seeds. Serve immediately.

Note: Kabocha squash is available in organic markets such as Whole Foods as well as many traditional supermarkets. If you can't find Kabocha squash, then acorn, butternut, or buttercup squash make good substitutes.

You might also like:

Olive Oil, Caramelized Onion, and Sage Sweet Potatoes




Roasted Rainbow Carrots and String Beans with Citrus-Sage Glaze




Roasted Acorn Squash with Honey-Lime Glazed Pepitas





Here are more delicious Kabocha squash recipes:
The Garden of Eating's Curried Chicken with Kabocha Squash and Mustard Greens
Closet Cooking's Kabocha Risotto
Apple Pies, Patis, and Pate's Ginataang Kalabasa (Kabocha Squash in Coconut Milk)


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46 comments:

Cookie baker Lynn said...

Wow, you always have such informative posts! I knew nothing about this squash before. Now I'll have to go search one out. The recipe sounds delicious!

Rosa's Yummy Yums said...

Thanks for the informative post! This recipe sounds very tempting! A nice way of preparing this squash...

cheers,

Rosa

Culinary Wannabe said...

I'm going to have to keep an eye out for this. I wonder if they have it at my local Japanese grocery. I bet it would make for a terrific lunch when paired with a salad.

Ricki said...

I received one of these babies in my organic box (like a CSA) last year, and since that day it's been my favorite squash! It's the smoothest and sweetest squash I've tasted so far. I'm sure this glaze only makes it better!

Elyse said...

Mmm, this squash sounds delicious! Thanks for the lesson. Now I can't wait to make this recipe.

Helene said...

I love this, I made a great potage with it. It was delicious. Great post.

Karen said...

Love all the flavors you've got in the glaze... sounds yummy!

Snooky doodle said...

really interesting! that recipe looks good too ;)

Allen of EOL said...

Great post! I never used to care much for squash but this past year I started to crave it ;-)

Rita said...

I picked one up last week at the Asian grocery store, they are pretty common in Brazil, also brought by the Japanese many decades ago. I roasted along with oregano and garlic, and then baked in a pizza/flatbread.

Kevin said...

Nice post about kabocha! I like to pick them up whenever I can find them.

Andrea said...

I looked for these last fall and couldn't find any in our area, so I've been on the hunt for some seeds to grow them in our garden. Your orange sauce sounds lovely!

Heather said...

mmm. nick and i really enjoy kabocha squash. your glaze sounds lovely!

Michelle said...

Coincidence – I just finished eating dinner made with kabocha! I diced it up and made a white chili. Love that you don't have to peel it.

Bellini Valli said...

I love squash!!!

Manggy said...

I think that's the squash we commonly get in Manila, and always what I use whenever you guys call for squash :) Glazing is such a classically delicious way of cooking it!

Absolutely Not Martha said...

another wonderful, naturally gluten free recipe!

Ivy said...

Thanks for the most informative post. Pity we can't get these in Greece.

Jude said...

I cook kabocha regularly and I still learned something new from your post. I especially appreciate the nutritional info. Thanks for the link back!

Eve Fox said...

mmmmm... sounds yummy! Thanks for the link!

Nicole said...

You're right. I have been wondering what it was and how to prepare it. Looks great!

Grace said...

i'll tell ya what kabocha squash is...it's downright delicious! i was so thrilled when i bought one and roasted it up, only to find that it was in the running for best squash ever. i'll have to try your orange glaze! great post, susan! :)

T.W. Barritt at Culinary Types said...

I'm glad you're out there checking this stuff out. As you say, I always thought it was an odd batch of acorn squash! I will give it a second look.

Chris @ Beyond Ramen said...

When they have kabocha squash in my dining hall, I am always smitten (even though they usually butcher it). And the orange-honey glaze looks perfectly appropriate - thanks for the recipe :)

Kristen said...

Your posts always are so info packed... love them!
This squash looks delish!

Food Couch said...

That is exactly how they look like here in the Philippines, too! :)

Informative post and delicious-looking recipe... I think I'm beginning to find the courage to eat squash, my mom will be so ecstatic! :)

sampada said...

sounds yummy...what a great and healthy recipe...I love the variety of food that you share on your site...Uphere in U.S. i always have a hard time trying to find ingredients...one of my friend introduced me to a great resource www.myethnicworld.com and i thought i pass great along as well.

Darius T. Williams said...

You know - you can make ANYTHING look good!

The Duo Dishes said...

Oooh, that glaze would work well on a lot of sweeter squash like this. Great!

Kirsty Girl said...

I live in Japan and can't get regular pumpkin and tried kabocha in pumpkin pie, bread and muffins. Tastes better than pumpkin.

chuck said...

Susan, these photos of the squash are so yummy looking. I love freshly roasted squash. Delish!

Maris said...

I actually HAVE seen this and wondered! It looks great though and I think they still have it at my favorite corner market. Thanks for sharing the great idea!

ChichaJo said...

Orange and honey and a little bit of spice...delicious combination for squash! :) I haven't come across that squash here but I'll keep an eye out!

mona said...

Those are new to me, perhaps I've seen them at the store, though never tried.. Thanks for the info!

burpandslurp said...

kabocha is my favorite food, EVER! too bad ppl don't know much about it, so it's kinda tough to find in the grocery stores! it can be found easily in asian supermarkets, though. thanks for this great post and letting it known to the public!

chefectomy said...

Really nice Susan. I am always looking at ways to expand my vegetable universe. This delivers.

--Marc

Lynda said...

I've seen these, now I can buy one and know what to do with it! This looks really good and since I love butternuts and acorn I'm sure I'll love this squash too!

Annie said...

I can't believe I'm actually craving squash now... You have a gift Susan!

Dragon said...

This recipe is making my mouth water. Great job!

RecipeGirl said...

I love your posts on vegetable-how-to's. Makes me want to try new things :)

Cara said...

I love kabocha squash, it's got such a wonderful, rich flavor.

Jeanne said...

Mmm, kabocha squash is one of my favourites - I love its dense texture and creamy flavour. Love this recipe too - definitely bookmarked :)

Anonymous said...

How can one tell if the squash is over-ripe? I just steamed one and a found tiny white "balls" among the seeds. Any explanation for the white particles?

Anonymous said...

Thanks for sharing this info & recipe. I just got a kabocha squash in my co-op box and I'd never before seen nor heard of it so I had no idea what to do with it.

Susan from Food Blogga said...

anonymous-I'm glad to be of assistance. You'll love it!

EbenVisher said...

I believe it rhymes with "mocha". So instead of the pronunciation you gave, this would make it pronounced, kuh-BOH-kuh.

(The last syllable you gave was cha, like the dance, cha cha.)

--Eben

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