The kabocha squash may be newer to the United States marketplace, but its popularity is rising as cooks are discovering the sweet, jewel-like orange flesh beneath the jade green exterior. The Japanese word for all squash is kabocha, but when used in the States, it usually refers specifically to a buttercup-like squash that can be used in almost any recipes that call for squash.
The Portugese are believed to have brought the kabocha squash to Japan in 1541, after picking it up in Cambodia, and the name itself is a piece of evidence in support of the fact. The Portugese name for the kabocha squash is Cambodia abóbora, which was shortened to kabocha by the Japanese (the ‘ch’ replaced the ‘r’ for a more language-friendly syllable).
The kabocha squash goes by several other aliases, including ebisu, delica, hoka, Hokkaido and Japanese pumpkin.
How to Cook Kabocha Squash
With a sweet taste reminiscent of a butternut squash (but even sweeter), the kabocha can serve as a substitute for pumpkin or sweet potato in your recipes, or choose one of the recommended recipes below.
Bake smaller kabocha squash whole, or split large ones in half carefully with a knife and scoop out the seeds. Drizzle with olive oil and season as desired. Bake at 400 degrees for about an hour until tender. Alternatively, you can cut the squash into cubes and cook in a steamer for about ten minutes (in Asian countries, kabocha is often steamed with the skin still on.
10 Kabocha Squash Recipes: Specially Selected Gourmet Ways to Use the Japanese Pumpkin
These mini cakes are made with lager beer and kabocha puree with cinnamon, vanilla and brown sugar for sweetness.
In Japan, lightly frying in tempura batter is one of the most common ways to enjoy kabocha. This is a bit of an un-recipe: it gives detailed instructions, but leaves the proportions up to the cook.
A recipe for a true gourmet: a creamy risotto seasoned with sage and sherry wine vinegar. Crispy pancetta is optional, but adds a nice saltiness.
This hearty stew is adapted from Alicia Silverstone’s The Kind Diet, so it’s vegan friendly. Perfect for autumn get-togethers!
A dollop of creme fraiche and a spicy pumpkin seed pesto make this soup one for the real grown-ups. (Hint: You can use regular pumpkin instead of the squash if you have one.)
Does anything sound more healthy than a kale and squash salad? Does anything sound more Fall?
You read that right! It’s a squash ice cream recipe! Don’t knock it, in fact, it’s a great way to enjoy a frozen treat that’s fitting for Fall.
Simple, roasted squash might be easy to prepare, but the taste is out of this world. Balsamic vinegar contrasts with the sweetness perfectly.
If you can’t imagine the smell of this cooking --with coconut oil and fresh sage-- you have no soul.
Stuffed squash makes a gorgeous presentation for the Thanksgiving table, and the aromatic Indian spices make this recipe as delicious as it is pretty.
More Ways With More Squash: