Delicious simmered kabocha squash flavored with the popular Japanese seasoning shio koji (rice koji and salt), resulting in a unique umami flavor.
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 of course it is super delicious!
What is Kabocha?
Kabocha is an Asian variety of winter squash, but in Japan, we refer to it as simply pumpkin. Kabocha’s exterior and texture is very hard when it’s raw, and has thick deep green skin. I know it’s not particularly “pretty.” But when you cut it open, (it will require some strength to cut through), you will see a beautiful intense yellow-orange flesh inside.
Kabocha is very moist and has a chestnut-like fluffy texture. It’s also filled with beta-carotene (which is converted to vitamin A by our body), iron, vitamin C, and B.
Simple and Delicious Simmered Kabocha
Because kabocha is naturally very sweet, and sweeter than butternut squash, a nice way to enjoy the kabocha’s natural flavor is to simmer it with minimum seasonings. For this recipe, I used only Shio Koji (塩麹), which brings out nice umami from kabocha.
Shio koji is a traditional Japanese ingredient made with fermented rice malt (koji) and salt (shio). The enzymes contained in shio koji break down proteins to draw umami out of meat and fish. If you want to read more about it, click here.
Where to Find Shio Koji for Simmered Kabocha?
I use shio koji from Hikari Miso and their products are available in Japanese grocery stores and on Amazon.
If you want to make Homemade Shio Koji, watch this short video below. For the step-by-step recipe, click here.
Other Delicious Kabocha Recipes
Simmered Kabocha with Shio Koji
- Cut the kabocha into 1-inch (2.5 cm) cubes and put into a medium saucepan.
- Add just enough water to completely cover kabocha, and add Hikari Miso Shio Koji.
- Bring to a boil then lower the heat to simmer. Cook the kabocha until a skewer goes through smoothly, about 4-5 minutes.
- Cover with a lid and set aside to allow the flavor to slowly be absorbed. Let the kabocha squash cook slowly with the residual heat while it absorbs flavor from the shio koji. If you overcook the kabocha squash, it will get mushy and lose its shape and appeal. You can serve this dish cold, at room temperature, or warm.
Editor’s Note: The post was originally published on February 9, 2014.