Easy Japanese Recipes

Simmered Kabocha with Shio Koji 南瓜の塩麹煮

Simmered Kabocha | Easy Japanese Recipes at JustOneCookbook.com

Have you tried Kabocha (カボチャ, 南瓜) before?  It’s called Kabocha squash in the U.S. and Japanese pumpkin in Australia and New Zealand.  This Simmered Kabocha is one of the easiest way to cook kabocha, and it tastes amazing too!


Japanese Kabocha squash (image courtesy of San Diego Union Tribune)

Kabocha is an Asian variety of winter squash, but in Japan we refer to it as pumpkin.  It is very hard and has very thick deep green skin, not particularly “pretty.”  But when you cut it open (it requires some strength to cut through), you will see a beautiful intense yellow-orange color inside.

Because kabocha is naturally very sweet, sweeter than butternut squash, a nice way to enjoy the kabochoa’s natural flavor is to simmer it, with minimum seasonings.  For this recipe, I used only shio koji, which brings out nice umami from kabocha.

Kabocha is very moist and has chestnut-like fluffy texture.  It’s also filled with beta-carotene (which will be converted to vitamin A in the body), iron, vitamin C and B.

Interested in other ways to enjoy kabocha?  Try Kabocha Tempura and Kabocha Salad.  They are so delicious!

Simmered Kabocha | Easy Japanese Recipes at JustOneCookbook.com

To get the Simmered Kabocha with Shio Koji recipeclick here over at Hikari Miso’s website.

Hikari Miso Shio Koji

Note: If you cannot find shio koji, use 2 tsp. sea salt instead.

Hikari Miso products are available in Japanese grocery stores and Amazon.

Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Hikari Miso.  To read more about my partnership with Hikari Miso, click click here.


If you want to make Homemade Shio Koji, watch this short video below.  For the step-by-step recipe, click here.  Thank you for reading my blog, and I hope you will try to experiment cooking with shio koji!

Posted in: 30 Minutes Or Less, Appetizers, Autumn, Healthy Recipes, Quick & Easy, Side Dishes, Vegetables, Tofu & Eggs, Vegetarian

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  • Baby Sumo February 9, 2014, 7:21 am

    We love pumpkin too. Not sure if I have had kabocha before…. probably not! Hehe Japanese vegetables are pretty expensive here in KL.

  • A_Boleyn February 9, 2014, 9:46 am

    There are so many interesting vegetables in the squash/pumpkin family aren’t there?

  • Sylvia February 9, 2014, 10:11 am

    I love kabocha but I usually don’t peel it. In your photos they look unpeeled too although your instructions say to peel it. What is the best way to peel kabocha?

  • Rosa February 9, 2014, 10:43 am

    An interesting recipe and refined speciality!



  • Maureen | Orgasmic Chef February 9, 2014, 11:31 am

    I read this post and realized that I’ve lived in Australia for nearly 20 years and never knew what a ‘jap’ pumpkin was. I see them in the supermarket all the time. I thought they looked familiar but it seemed like a crap name so I never bought one. LOL I’m an idiot.

    I’m eager to get one today and give this a try.

    • Yuji February 10, 2014, 9:50 am

      I don’t think any harm was intended, but wanted you to know “Jap” as a description of Japanese is highly offensive. Again, I assume it was not intended to be offensive, and just wanted to let you know. Thanks :)

      • Nami February 10, 2014, 5:33 pm

        Hi Yuji! No, she didn’t mean any harm. Maureen is a very good friend of mine. :)

        I understood that she saw a name tag written as “jap pumpkin” and she didn’t want to buy it because it’s considered offensive name (she’s an American living in Australia).

        I just checked Japanese wiki, and it did say in Australia, “Jap” is used for shortening Japanese, and often use as “Jap pumpkin” but not used as derogatory term.

        Wiki also mentioned the following, and I also noticed myself after receiving comments from people in Asian countries. A lot of Asians use “jap” as abbreviated form for Japan/Japanese, but they don’t mean any harm. To tell you the truth, I first thought jap was abbreviation too, just like Cal for California… :/ It didn’t click when I first came to the U.S.

        Hope this helps a bit for anyone else have similar thoughts.

        • Maureen | Orgasmic Chef February 10, 2014, 5:43 pm

          That was my point, Yuji, it IS an offensive term. I’m American and I remember the history and when I first saw the pumpkins in Australia I thought it was some weird Australian variety. Someone once said it was a Japanese pumpkin and I wouldn’t try it just because of the name.

          I would never offend you or Nami or anyone. I was just making the point about the pumpkin and my experience.

          • Nami February 10, 2014, 5:50 pm

            Thank you Maureen! Actually the wiki (Japan) said Australia uses “jap” as derogatory term too, but ALSO used as abbreviation in some cases. And one example for NOT derogatory term was “jap pumpkin”! Not sure how accurate Japan wiki is, but I guess it’s better to use JP or JPN for abbreviation. :)

            • Yuji February 10, 2014, 6:46 pm

              Thank you both for your thoughtful responses. Maureen, I believe you have nothing but the best intentions. Take care. Nami, love the website.

              • Nami February 10, 2014, 8:34 pm

                Thank you Yuji! :)

                • Oobie May 16, 2014, 5:01 pm

                  Third generation Japanese American finds any use of “jap” to be highly offensive. We were interned during WWII based on heritage and the term used same as “nigger” “kike” “spik”

                  • Nami May 16, 2014, 5:22 pm

                    Thank you so much for your input, Oobie! I totally understand. You might see some commenters from countries other than US (especially Asia) use this word without realizing the history and commonly use as abbreviation for Japan there. :( I know they don’t mean to hurt, but hopefully people will realize the history and start using different abbreviation. Thanks for writing!

  • Elizabeth @Mango_Queen February 9, 2014, 2:50 pm

    I could eat Kabocha Squash every day! I love how you just simmered it in a simple recipe. Would love to pour this on steamed jasmine white rice any time. Thanks for sharing, Nami!

  • John@Kitchen Riffs February 9, 2014, 3:10 pm

    Kabocha is really good! And a variety of squash I don’t use enough. This looks wonderful! Lovely recipe, and I love the top photo! Thanks.

  • Sandra | Sandra's Easy Cooking February 9, 2014, 3:13 pm

    This looks wonderful! I love pumpkin of any kind, and the recipe couldn’t be more simple! Delicious pictures too!

  • Monica February 9, 2014, 4:59 pm

    I have never had this – thank you for pointing this out! I have always enjoyed the delicious pumpkin tempura at Japanese restaurants and wondered what it really is. Must be this squash/pumpkin! It sounds delicious – I will keep an eye out for it!

  • Medeja February 9, 2014, 6:56 pm

    I don’t think I have seen or at least didn’t grab my attention in Australia, but it looks very familiar, I guess my mom used to grow them just had no idea that it is Japanese pumpkin :)

  • Tiffany | baking at tiffanys February 9, 2014, 9:52 pm

    I think I’ve had kabocha tempura–which was very delicious (how can you go wrong with fried squash). Love how simple and tasty this looks! I’ll need to try the squash prepared this way.

  • donna mikasa February 9, 2014, 10:00 pm

    Our whole family loves kabocha, and I usually simmer it in some dashi. The shio koji sounds like a “must have” condiment!

    • Nami February 10, 2014, 9:15 pm

      Donna, me too! But after I started using shio koji, I alternate. Shio koji one tastes much simpler, so it’s great with organic good kabocha. :)

  • Dedy@Dentist Chef February 9, 2014, 11:17 pm

    wow, i guess i’m gona lovin it, the savoury japanese pumpkin would be melt in the mouth!!!

  • Helena February 9, 2014, 11:46 pm

    I m curious to taste this recipe!
    thank yo for the sharing!
    I m also very happy to find your posts after a long time of health problems.
    Have a nice week my dear!

    • Nami February 10, 2014, 9:18 pm

      Hi Helena! I’m glad to hear you found my site. Thank you so much for reading and I hope you find something you want to cook/eat from my blog. :)

  • Belinda @zomppa February 10, 2014, 5:26 am

    What a simple lovely way to use this pumpkin.

  • Shema | LifeScoops February 10, 2014, 6:17 am

    I have heard about kabocha before but I have never tried them. This dish looks yummy. I also loved the kabocha pork stir fry :)

  • Asmita February 10, 2014, 7:22 am

    This looks superb! Would love to try it!

  • Maggie February 10, 2014, 7:24 am

    Do I have to use the green skin pumpkin to make this dish? Last time I tried a similar dish with the orange skin pumpkin, the kind for Halloween, but the texture didn’t turn out so well. I didn’t know whether I did wrong during cooking or I used the wrong type of pumpkin.

    • Nami February 10, 2014, 9:21 pm

      Hi Maggie! Actually I’m not familiar with other squash/pumpkin simmered like this, so it’s hard to tell. But kabocha’s outer layer is so thick and strong that when we make this simmered dish, it holds the orange part of kabocha very well. Not sure orange skin pumpkin is hard as green one. This dish is very typical Japanese dish, and kabocha (green skin) is simmered like this. :)

      • Maggie February 10, 2014, 10:01 pm

        You make a good point here. According to my comparison, Kabocha’s outer layer is much stronger and the inner texture is creamier for simmered dish.
        I think it’s not a good idea to use orange skin pumpkin. It falles apart too easily if boiling only for a bit longer, and finished inner texture is not as good as kobocha. We can find kobocha in the market in Beijing, but it’s not as big and nice as the ones in Japan. But I will definitely try the dish with kobocha pumpkin next time to make it right! :)

        • Nami February 10, 2014, 10:30 pm

          Thank you for letting me know about the orange skin pumpkin. Yeah probably for simmered kabocha, green hard skin will work the best. :) The green part gets soft (not soft as orange though) and delicious too. :)

          • Maggie February 10, 2014, 11:20 pm

            Oh, I didn’t know the green part is edible! I might wasted a lot of good part before…. Glad I know it now :)

            • Nami February 10, 2014, 11:44 pm

              Haha! Yes, it’s edible! If the green skin has some big bump, simply peel off that part (so when you eat, it’s not chunky). If you see some patchy patterns on the green skin for some simmered kabocha, the chef/cook probably peeled off that hard part. :)

              • Maggie February 11, 2014, 12:12 am

                Great tip! I will remember that. Patchy patterns sound nice. Strong enough to hold inner part together and won’t be too difficult to chew.
                Btw, isn’t it already mid night your time? You’re working too hard and should go get some rest! :)

                • Nami February 11, 2014, 12:25 am

                  I didn’t mention about scraping off the bumpy part in the recipe, so I’m glad you mentioned. :) Yeah…it’s just passed midnight. I should go to sleep by 1 am (my new year resolution!) but there are so much to do and so little time… :)

                  • Maggie February 11, 2014, 12:33 am

                    Totally understand! There’s never enough time. I’m already trying hard to keep posting 3 recipes every week, not to mention you need more time to do the video, reply comments and lots of other things! My new year resolution will focus on time management, maybe work on the blog during my lunch break. Don’t tell my boss about it :)

                    • Nami February 11, 2014, 12:36 am

                      I did 3 recipes/week long time ago then gave up. =P Now aiming at least 2 posts a week. Heheheh I won’t tell your boss. :)

  • Kimmi February 10, 2014, 7:53 am

    Thanks for sharing this recipe! I’ve always seen kabocha at the Asian grocery store, but never quite knew what I would do with it. Maybe I’ll pick one up next time I go shopping. =)

    Also, I hope that you enjoyed your friends’ visit and all of the weekend celebrations!

    • Nami February 10, 2014, 9:32 pm

      Thank you Kimmi! We hadn’t seen the friends for 6 years, so that was very nice. And we had good time at birthday party and bridal shower too. Thank you so much for your kind thoughts. :)

      Yes, I hope you pick up Kabocha one day and try. But don’t be surprised how hard it is to cut through. :D

  • kristy February 10, 2014, 8:59 am

    Hi Nami! This sounds and looks so delicious. We’ve been eating a lot of squash this winter. I’ve even found ways to disguise it in dishes so that the kids will eat it. :) But while they’re not fans of eating squash like this, I sure am! This would make an entire meal for me. I hope all is well and that you are enjoying the winter. Have a great week!

  • rika@vm February 10, 2014, 2:20 pm

    I absolutely love kabocha, there’s something beautiful about it, possibly the golden color and the tenderness. It’s amazing you can use shio koji in anything else esp a variety of yummy vegetables! Thank you for sharing this awesome appetizer & snack, Nami! xx

  • Monet February 10, 2014, 2:53 pm

    What a gorgeous vegetable…and one I’ve yet to try! Thank you for sharing such a simple and stunning dish. You always inspire me!

  • Hotly Spiced February 10, 2014, 5:45 pm

    What beautiful presentation, Nami. I’m quite sure we can buy this type of pumpkin in Sydney. I think though I normally remove the skin. I didn’t know it was edible! xx

  • Priscilla - She's Cookin' February 10, 2014, 6:09 pm

    I love the deep orange color and rich flavor of kabocha squash. It makes it so much easier, when you don’t have to peel it, too! I clicked over the to the kabocha salad – I’m not fond of raisins so really liked the idea of substituting bacon :)

  • ray February 10, 2014, 8:30 pm

    We used kabocha squash all the time in soup, and with stir fried dishes with bitter melon. Such a versatile type of vegetable. I like the simplicity of how you cooked it. Have a good week Nami.

  • tigerfish February 10, 2014, 8:56 pm

    Yay! That’s my favorite squash (among the other pumpkins) for flavor! But not necessarily my favorite when it comes to prep. I like simple ways to bring out the natural flavors of ingredients.

  • mjskit February 10, 2014, 9:07 pm

    Love Kabocha! I wanted to buy one Sunday, but the market didn’t have one so I had to settle with butternut. Maybe next weekend. Your picture is lovely and your squash is just awesome! It doesn’t look like you peeled the squash. Does it soften in this recipe? I’ve always removed the peel. Have I been wasting my time? :)

    • Nami February 10, 2014, 9:34 pm

      Hi MJ! Yes, we don’t usually peel the skin for simmered kabocha dish. The orange part gets soft and easily gets mushy, so having the hard green peel sort of protect the shape. Otherwise it’s hard to maintain the shape. However, I do peel the skin for Kabocha Salad. The texture should be smooth, so I remove it. I guess most people (outside of Japan, maybe) don’t know the green part is actually edible. :)

  • Katerina February 11, 2014, 1:54 am

    I am not sure I have seen a kabocha in Greece but I guess this can be made with any type of squash! Beautiful pics!

  • The Ninja Baker February 11, 2014, 2:57 am


  • Ramona February 11, 2014, 4:09 am

    I bought some of this pumpkin from the Asian market… I now have inspiration to make it. :) Hope you are having a wonderful Valentine’s week!!

  • Kelly February 11, 2014, 4:56 am

    I love squash but still haven’t tried kabocha yet. This dish sounds wonderful Nami and would love to try it :)

  • Kitchen Belleicious February 11, 2014, 5:00 am

    i have seen that squash and never knew what to do with it. So glad I have you though because I will pick one up next time! I love your creativity and use of so many different ingredients and flavors! Hope your having a great week!

  • nipponnin February 11, 2014, 9:55 am

    インターネットがしばらく使えなくて、苦労してました。そのことは今度のポストに書くのだけど。 かぼちゃ美味しいそうじゃないですか! まるでプロ的なプレゼンテーション、かっこいい!

  • Juliana February 11, 2014, 10:15 am

    What a nice and simple way to prepare kabocha…I always buy it when I see it in the market, but always have trouble looking for a recipe…next time I will definitely try this recipe.
    Thanks Nami…have a great week :D

  • Amira February 11, 2014, 1:07 pm

    Kaboucha !!!! This is strange… you know what Kaboucha -and sometimes called Kabouchi – in Egypt? It is the Ice burg lettuce :). Your Kaboucha is waaaay different than the Kaboucha I know, yet it is still healthy and looks very delicious. I am really looking forward to make your homemade Shio Koji.

  • Gintare @Gourmantine February 11, 2014, 1:38 pm

    I remember trying to cut through kabocha for the first time, I thought I’ll break the knife or the table… :) Lovely recipe, Nami :)

  • Sandra February 11, 2014, 4:26 pm

    Simple, healthy and I know it ‘s delicious. Gorgeous picture!

  • Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella February 12, 2014, 12:12 am

    I adore kabocha! It’s so sweet and delicious and as you say you just need to simmer it a little and that’s all it needs! :D

  • Sue | My Korean Kitchen February 12, 2014, 3:44 am

    I love Kabocha! I bought some on the weekend to make baby food. She’s been really enjoying it. It was really hard to cut and peel the skin off but I managed it. :)

  • Mich Piece of Cake February 12, 2014, 5:42 am

    I love this way of eating Japanese pumpkin! Its very easy to get this here, so I’ll love to try making it this way.

  • cquek February 12, 2014, 6:23 am

    You have excellent taste!!!

  • Evelyne@cheapethniceatz February 12, 2014, 7:52 am

    I have seen this squash mentioned a few times now but have not seen Kabocha yet, well not in normal grocery stores. Cannot wait to get my hands one one, they sounds delicious.

  • Laura (Tutti Dolci) February 12, 2014, 10:48 pm

    I love squash, this looks so tender and delicious. And so simple to make!

  • Francesca February 13, 2014, 3:10 am

    My husband is Japanese and I cook Japanese food often. The problem is that it’s not easy here in Sicily to find Japanese products. We have lots of pumpkins but not kabocha. This recipe looks delicious!

    • Nami February 13, 2014, 7:30 pm

      Hi Francesca! I heard it’s hard to find Japanese ingredients in Italy too. Try Chinese or other Asian markets. Kabocha is pretty common in Asian cuisines. :)

  • Bam's Kitchen February 14, 2014, 2:16 am

    Nami-san, Love the simple recipes…this one is perfect to go with so many dinners. I am also glad to have a name for this pumpkin I use all the time. It is so sweet and delicious. Take care, BAM

  • Sissi February 14, 2014, 1:38 pm

    I haven’t tasted kabocha yet… It does look beautiful and I’m sure shio koji makes it even more palatable!

  • Charles February 18, 2014, 2:05 pm

    Looking good Nami! I don’t think I’m the world’s biggest fan of squash and pumpkins but it’s sure nice occasionally. Have you ever had a pattypan squash? Those are so fun to look at… like alien flying saucers! :D