Kabocha squash season has begun at Greenmarket here in New York City. I enjoy kabocha squash in soup, salad, grilled and fried dishes. Kabocha is rich in many nutrients such as beta carotene, potassium, vitamin, C, E, B1 and B2. Also it is a good source of calcium and iron. These chemicals keep us healthy during the cold season. Why not introducing kabocha dishes to your table more often this winter?
When you look at Kabocha cutting it even into halves makes you challenging. But, it is quite do-able especially at this time of the year. Kabocha is still young and tender. Kabocha stores very well – from now through the winter to next year. Storage actually improves the flavor. Long stored kabocha becomes quite firm, both skin and flesh. So, cutting a firm kabocha into halves, sections and pieces requires a well honed knife, strength, technique and determination. So, let’s master now how to cut it.
How to attack a kabocha:
1. Remove the top knob of the kabocha.
2. Remove the bottom knob of the kabocha.
3. Insert the tip of the knife in the center of the kabocha and push the knife down to the bottom to cut the half part of it.
4. Rotate the kabocha 180 degree and repeat it.
5. Remove all of the seeds. Use the cut kabocha in 3 – 4 days, or cook and freeze for later use.
By the way the part of the kabocha, which sat on the ground all the time, presents orange color. When you buy kabocha look for the one whose orange part has deeper and brighter orange color. The deeper orange color suggests sweeter flesh inside, a farmer in Japan once told me.
There are many ways to enjoy kabocha, but here are some simple recipe suggestions. I also included Spiced Kabocha Soup from Hiroko’s American Kitchen. This will be a wonderful addition to your Thanksgiving meal this year.
Simple recipe suggestions:
1. Bake the kabocha at 400 degree F for 1 1/2 hours in the oven. The inside flesh becomes tender and creamy. You just need a good quality sea salt, such as Suzushio salt, to enjoy the tender flesh. Skin is also edible, so make sure to rinse well with a hard brush before cooking it.
2. Slice the kabocha into wedges, 1/4 inch thick. Bake the kabocha in the oiled sheet pan until golden. You just need a good quality of olive oil and sea salt for seasoning.
3. Slice the kabocha into wedges, 1/4 inch thick. Fry it in tempura method. Serve with tempura dipping sauce.
4. Make delicious soup such as below.
2 1/2 cup cooked, peeled kabocha
1 medium carrot
1 small leek or small white onion
4 cups kelp stock
2 tablespoons ginger juice from fresh ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 1/2 tablespoons medium-aged light brown miso
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 cup olive oil
Cook the carrot and leek or onion in the kelp stock for 25 minutes. Transfer the broth and cooked vegetables along with the cooked kabocha to a blender and puree until smooth. Add the miso, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger juice and process. Add the olive oil and process further.