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Kabocha (Japanese squash)

Came across it when grocery shopping today, so I picked one up. As I understand it, you can use it as a substitute for butternut squash. Anyone with any experience or suggesions, looking for something different to try.

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  1. I used it instead of pumpkin in a pie and was pleased with the results.

    1 Reply
    1. re: small h

      similarly, I used it to make cheesecake over thanksgiving.

      1. re: JoanN

        After you wash the kabocha, you can make thin slices and use it in tempura. My mom also used to cook kabocha with dried shrimp which imparted a nice flavor to the flesh of the kabocha.

      2. I think it is worth eating at least half of it straight - steamed or baked - without any fancy additions. It may not even need salt. And try some with the skin still on. I think the flavor is great by itself.

        I've used it in pumpkin bread, as a puree, sliced and roasted with other vegetables, as base for pumpkin soup. For some of those applications I peel it, either before cooking or after (mainly where I want the pure color).

        1. The flavor of kabocha is wonderful - so wonderful that I have had squash haters fall in love!
          I have cooked it simply with great results. It also pairs nicely with coconut milk and curry.

          1. I used a kabocha squash (roasted) to house a cheese fondue. I usually use acorn squash but we very much enjoyed the kabocha as well. Guests can spoon some of the roasted flesh with the cheese, just being careful not to break through the "wall" of the squash-container. It was lovely and such a beautiful color too.

            1. I don't think you can compare kabocha to butternut. I find butternut too moist and not very flavorful. Kabocha is more like a butterCup squash. The flesh can be very dry although here in New England the squash should be cured enough not to be quite so dry. I grow a variety from Johnny's called Confection. The first year and first time cooking it I actually had to add a bit of water to the mashed squash. The flavor is very sweet. I have read that the rind is edible and have probably had slices in some tempura dishes but I generally cut the rind off. You can use it every way that you use butternut. I also like to lightly steam it before adding it to massaman curry using it instead of sweet potatoes. I have not noticed any big difference when using mashed squash to baked recipes. IMHO butternut became popular because it's prolific and easier to peel. If you don't have a sharp knife, microwave it for maybe 2 or 3 minutes.

              If you use it in a recipe such as soup, it won't soften as easily as a butternut so it holds it shape better. My inlaws used to grow butterCups. Then I found kabocha in the grocery store and chose that if it was available. Now that I can grow my own squash, I went with confection. I try a different kind of squash every year but so far none have kept as well nor been as tasty.

              1. Cut it into cubes an inch or so across, and simmer them in dashi with a little soy sauce and mirin until tender - simple and delicious! Can be chilled and served cold too, I actually prefer it straight out of the fridge as a snack. If you don't have dashi (or konbu/bonito to make it) then chicken broth is fine as well.

                Make sure you leave some of the skin on too, lots of flavour in there. I like to take small bits of it off in strips to give a zebra-striped effect, looks nice that way as well.

                1 Reply
                1. re: jerkstore

                  This is my favorite way to prepare kabocha. It's so delicious with a sprinkling of gomashio (black sesame seed ground with salt in a 6:1 ratio for the uninitiated.) I can eat just this with some protein and call it dinner, though many would want rice, too.

                2. I like roasting it with some cumin, sea salt, smoked paprika, and a little brown sugar.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: toveggiegirl

                    I like to remove the seeds and roast it whole, also roasting the "lid", until almost soft enough to serve, then fill with a mixture of rice, pesto and toasted pine nuts and return to the oven to finish cooking. It's a nice, hearty sweet/savory mix.

                  2. I steamed one, scooped out the flesh, pureed it, and made soup. I find the flavor richer and sweeter than butternut or pumpkin.

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: nofunlatte

                      I've also made soup with it. I sweat minced onion and garlic, add white wine, fresh thyme, chicken stock and the squash, and puree it all. Add stock if it gets too thick, add sliced andouille sausage or chorizo, some s and p and a little swirl of cream on top is optional.

                      1. re: mcf

                        I found the meat of the squash to be similar to Hubbard.

                        I, too, made several pies for Thanksgiving using a Saveur
                        recipe. Usually I use turban but couldn't find a decent one this year.


                        I saved the seeds and will send them to my bud in Iowa to add to his
                        squash patch.

                        1. re: mcf

                          OMG that soup sounds like something I would really enjoy. Guess I'll have to start out basic first, so at least I know what it tastes like. From there I'll try the soup and probably something with coconut milk and red curry. Thanks so much for all the advice.