Kabocha squash is a winter squash which is widely eaten in Japan. A very good quality kabocha has a texture of potato that gives rich and sweet flavor when cooked. Unlike other winter squashes, kabocha squash has much lower water content, and hard green outer skin is edible. Many stewed Kabocha recipe intentionally leave the skin on to show the beautiful contrast of bright orangey flesh and dark green skin.
On the day of winter solstice, Japanese eat sweet kabocha with adzuki beans. Probably Japanese people in the past tried to supplement the vitamin deficiency during winter months by eating Kabocha, packed with beta carotin and other essential vitamins. Sweet and comforting flavor of kabocha is perfect to eat on a breezy cold day.
The most typical cooking method of kabocha is to stew with soy sauce, sugar, and dashi (you can use noodle soup base instead of mixing soy sauce, sugar and dashi), but kabocha is also great for tempura when thinly sliced. Pumpkin soup made from Kabocha has very rich flavor.
How to Choose Kabocha Squash
- Drier and heavier ones are sweeter
- Choose the one with mat skin rather than glossy skin, because glossy ones tend to have higher water content and that means less sweeter
- Make sure the stamp is dried
- Well matured one has indentation around the stamp, and the skin around the stamp may be cracked a bit due to the dryness