Simmered Kabocha with Shio Koji 南瓜の塩麹煮

Simmered Kabocha | Easy Japanese Recipes at

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)

What is Kabocha?

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

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!

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  1. Sylvia

    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?

  2. 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

      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 :)

      • 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.

        • 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.

          • 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

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

                • Oobie

                  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”

                  • 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!

  3. 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!

  4. 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 :)

  5. donna mikasa

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

  6. Helena

    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!

  7. 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.

    • 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. :)

      • 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! :)

        • 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. :)

            • 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. :)

              • 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! :)

                • 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… :)

                  • 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 :)

  8. Kimmi

    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!

    • 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. 😀

  9. 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!

  10. 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

  11. 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 :)

  12. 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.

  13. 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.

  14. 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? :)

    • 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. :)

  15. 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!

  16. 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!

  17. 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 😀

  18. 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.

  19. 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!

    • 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. :)

  20. 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

  21. 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! 😀