Among all the colorful, delicious winter squashes–Delicata, Hubbard, Butternut, Spaghetti, Acorn, Turban, Calabaza—I discovered Kabocha. The first time I roasted it in the wood-fired oven, I knew it would become a favorite for our family.
Kabocha squash somewhat resembles a squatty dark green pumpkin, although there are red to orange varieties. The squash is grown primarily in Japan, Thailand, California, and Florida, and it’s the peak season for it now–late summer to early fall. The squashes are harvested and allowed to ripen for a month and a half before coming to market. Kabocha squash develops its sweetness during the post-harvest ripening. Sweeter than Butternut, it tastes like a cross between pumpkin and sweet potato.
Roasting any of the winter squashes enhances their flavor. Like other firm-skinned squashes, Kabocha squash needs a brush of olive oil, salt, and pepper in readiness for roasting. It’s also prepared steamed, pan-fried, baked, pureed in soup, stir-fried, batter dipped and fried as tempura.
The folks at Specialty Produce list a variety of pairings for Kabocha squash: roasted pears, coconut milk, curry, sage, nutmeg, clove, ginger, butter, cream, parmesan cheese, spinach, and sausage. Imagine wonderful mashes at Thanksgiving, creamed soups with warming spices, flavorful sausage atop sweet buttered squash…lots of possibilities.
Roasting is easy, but cutting can be hard. Slicing a Kabocha squash is as challenging as cutting through a Spaghetti squash. I’ve read, but not tried, microwaving the squash for a few minutes to soften the skin. Either by careful knife work or microwave before cutting, the squash needs to be divided in half, and the seeds scooped out. Seeds can be roasted like pumpkin seeds. Depending on the temperature of your wood-fired or conventional oven, lightly oil and season the squash and roast until the flesh is tender and lightly charred.
Check out our blog on squash and soup in a pumpkin tureen. Try a versatile Kabocha squash this season and see if if becomes a fall favorite with you. This roasted kabocha soup has a slight sweetness from the coconut milk base and a warming hint of Garam masala.
Simple Kabocha Coconut Soup