If you’re a foodie, chances are that you’ve heard of kabocha (カボチャ) “Japanese pumpkin.” But even people who aren’t foodies can appreciate this creamy, sweet winter squash.
On the outside, kabocha is deep green–sometimes with white striations up and down the skin–but on the inside it’s a beautiful golden orange, a color which means whatever you cook with your kabocha will be a delight not only to eat but to look at, as well. Small and squat with an average weight of 3 lbs, kabocha is a perfect size for everyday meals and side dishes. It’s even the perfect size to use the outer shell as a statement serving bowl for your kabocha dish.
You can buy kabocha year-round, but the peak season late summer through autumn. The reason that this window is longer than many is because kabocha is actually still growing when it’s ripened. It’s not important to get the freshest kabocha in the store, especially when you’re planning on using it right away, as time is the key ingredient in getting the perfectly sweet and flavorful taste.
Like many squash varieties, kabocha packs a healthy punch. Packed full of iron, vitamins and calcium, kabocha is a food that’s great tasting and great for you. Another draw of kabocha is that it’s a great source of beta carotene, which is what the body uses to make vitamin A. It’s what gives the squash its distinctive orange color, and gives your body what it needs for maintaining eye health and the immune system. Vitamin A is also very important the health of your skin and hair, meaning you can add to your skincare routine just by treating yourself to some tempura.
One of the most common ways to prepare kabocha is to batter and fry it tempura style. (We have a quick run-down on tempura overe here (LINK) on our blog if you want to try it out!) But there are tons of different ways to eat this delicious squash. One almost as common way is in a potage (written ポタージュ in Japanese), which is just a type of thick, porridge-like soup.
Kabocha potage is pretty simple to make from scratch; it only needs a few ingredients to make and only about 25 minutes cook time. You really just need 2 tablespoons of butter, half an onion, half a kabocha, a potato, 2 and a half cups of vegetable stock and about 1 cup of milk.
Just heat the butter in a large saucepan, slice the onion and cook it in with the butter until it’s soft. Peel and chop the kabocha into small chunks, making sure to take out the seeds. Slice the potato into thin rounds, then add it and the kabocha in to cook for about 10 minutes, until they’re both soft. Then you just add the stock in and let it simmer until the veggies are soft enough that they can be smashed easily, then take it all off of the heat and purée it together with a hand blender or a food processor. All that’s left is putting it back in the pan to add the milk and some salt and pepper and reheating it. You can add more milk if you want a thicker texture. If you don’t have the time to make it from scratch, you can find easy to make, dried kabocha potage in our store as well as a handful of other delicious fall flavors.
Those are definitely not the only two ways to prepare kabocha; just a quick search for kabocha recipes will yield tons of results. Use one of those recipes, or even make your own; just use it like you would any squash and see what you turn out! We’d love to hear about any original recipes you come up with! You can also ask around our store, we’re always willing to give cooking tips and tricks!
Asahi carries something for all of your kabocha needs. You can come pick up some fresh kabocha from our vegetable section or some kabocha potage mix. You can even ask one of our helpful staff members what kind of kabocha flavored snack we have in.
What’s your favorite kabocha themed food? Have you experimented and made the perfect kabocha recipe? We’d love to hear about what you’ve made in the comments!
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