Sunday, October 28th, 2012...4:53 pm


Kabocha (Japanese Squash) by moogs

Are you planning your Thanksgiving feast yet?  When you do, consider serving Kabocha, pronounced kah-bow-cha as part of the meal. The Latin name for kabocha is Cucurbita maxima and the common name is Japanese pumpkin or Japanese squash.

This delicious, sweet tasting pumpkin/squash is one of the sweetest of all the pumpkins/squashes. You eat almost every part of the Kabocha. You don’t have to peel it because both the skin and flesh are eaten.  (see here)

Then you can roast the seeds which you will have removed after getting rid of any stringy membranes. To prepare the seeds: Rinse the seeds, drain and put them on paper towels to dry. Transfer the seeds to an ungreased baking pan (without paper towels), spread out in one layer. Roast in preheated 300-degree oven for 30 minutes.

Kabocha is relatively new in the US- it has been around approximately 14 years supposedly first planted and grown by the Sakata seed company to send to Japan.  (see here) The Japanese have been raising and enjoying this winter squash since approximately the 1700s.

TheGardenLady finds kabocha sold only in the Asian markets near her. You may be lucky to have this squash/pumpkin sold in your grocery stores or farmers markets. Kabocha is prepared like any squash or pumpkin.  You can use your own favorite squash recipe.  I have not tried to make pumpkin pie from it, but imagine it will be fantastic. There are also many Japanese kabocha recipes online for one to try. It is commonly used in tempura.   I want to try the Sankaya or Thai pumpkin custard in the list of recipes included in this post.

If you don’t want to do anything fancy, the simplest recipe to use is:

1 lb Japanese pumpkin/ kabocha cut into one or 2 inch cubes but Leave the Skin on. The skin is edible and nutritious.
Mix together 3/4 to 1 cup water or dashi stock
3 or 4 tbs of  sugar or to taste
2 or more tablespoons soy sauce- to taste.
Put liquid and cut up kabocha in pot, bring to boil, lower heat and simmer till the liquid is almost gone and cubes are tender. Serve warm or cold.

Once you have tasted kabocha, you will want to plant the seeds in your own garden. The seeds can be found online, if you cannot find them in your local seed store. Kabocha seeds are planted in late May or early June to be harvested about 84 days later. The harvested kabocha will hold up for 4 months. Directions on how to plant kabocha seeds are here.

Penn State extension had trial plots to see which of the Kabocha seeds grew best for them and recommended ‘Red Kuri’, ‘Sweet Mama’ and ‘Sun Spot’ based on equal or higher yield than ‘Sunshine’. Purdue University thought Sweet Mama had the highest yield in their trials. (see here)

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