Sunday, October 4, 2009

Farmer's Market: Kabocha Squash!

I bet you've never heard of this one! But it's a real winner in my book. Kabocha squash, or Japanese pumpkin, is a winter squash that might remind you of a cross between a small dark green pumpkin and an acorn squash. But the flavor is so unique and delicious, it's in a class of its own! Kabocha squash is also quite nutritious, containing plenty of beta carotene in its bright orange flesh, as well as vitamin C, iron, potassium, folic acid, and B vitamins. It's very sweet and flavorful but only has 30 calories per 3/4 cup (cooked). Each serving also contains a gram of fiber and a gram of protein.

My first experience with kabocha squash was at a Filipino restaurant. I was looking over the menu, trying to find something made of mostly vegetables when I saw Ginataang Kalabasa, squash stewed in coconut milk. Sounded good to me! And it WAS good... delicious, in fact! I found it quite fascinating that the squash was yellowy orange, like butternut or acorn squash, but had its skin intact on the stewed cubes. The thin, dark green rind was quite flavorful and, in fact, was one of my favorite parts of the dish. I *had* to find out what this squash was! I loved it. I wanted to make it at home, without the pork chunks they included at the restaurant.

I started searching for Ginataang Kalabasa online, and found that in the Philippines this is a common, simple dish made from Kabocha squash, onions, garlic, and coconut milk. I looked up Kabocha squash and lo and behold, there was a picture of a squash I had sitting on my counter! I had purchased it at the Farmer's Market and forgotten what it was. So I decided to cube that sucker up and make my own version of Ginataang Kalabasa. Here's my recipe:

Take a medium-sized Kabocha squash and scrub the outside until it's clean. If there are any ugly spots, trim them off with a vegetable peeler. Then chop that baby in half, scoop out the seeds, and cut it into bite-sized cubes (around 1"). I got almost 5 cups of squash from mine.

Put a Tablespoon of olive oil in a pan on medium heat. Chop a large sweet onion and put it in the pan with a sprinkle of salt. Cook until translucent, maybe 5 minutes. Chop 4 big cloves of garlic and put those in with the onion. Stir it around a bit, and lower the heat to medium low.

Pour one can (14-16oz) of Lite Coconut milk into the pan (I used Taste of Thai brand... 50 calories/serving). Add some strong chicken broth made from 1/4c water mixed with 1 tsp chicken bouillon (or one cube). Stir gently, season with salt and pepper, put the lid on and simmer gently for 20 minutes. I did lift the lid and carefully stir it a couple of times.

After 20 minutes, remove the lid, stir gently so you don't break the squash cubes up, and simmer uncovered for another 5 to 10 minutes until the squash is very tender (check with a fork, it should be soft but not quite falling apart). The coconut milk will thicken a bit and turn a lovely golden color from the squash. Remove from the heat and let stand for 5 min or so.

Taste and add salt & pepper as needed. That's it!

You can also modify this by adding a teaspoon or so of curry powder and some ginger to the onions/oil in the beginning. That creates a new dish reminiscent of Indian Butternut Squash Curry. I love curried squash!

Some people serve these squash dishes over rice. I like to dish it up in a bowl, mash the squash just a little with my fork, and eat it like a stew. It is so good and comforting! And you can add whatever spices and flavorings you like to make it your own. I've also added steamed broccoli to this at the end. Extra good and super nutritious!

Note: I had a funny thing happen when I tried a bite raw. I felt kinda "fuzzy" in the mouth and throat area. If you've ever had an allergic reaction to food, you might recognize this feeling. I googled it and found a few warnings not to eat raw kabocha squash because some people have a reaction, but I also saw recipes online for raw kabocha, and people who were eating them seemed fine. So use your discretion. I only eat mine cooked.

Enjoy your kabocha squash!

24 comments:

Jack Sh*t, Gettin' Fit said...

Kabocha squash? I think that's what the Klingons ate on Star Trek.

Tiffany said...

What perfect timing you have! I was just at the grocery store and saw these...I had no idea how to prepare it so I passed on it. I did wonder though. I am a squash lover, but rarely make it. I am going to give this a try cause it sounds like something my family would love. Thanks for sharing!!

Kristin said...

I love love LOVE kabocha squash! I make a delicious squash soup with it, but your recipe sounds wonderful--I'll have to try it! :)

rmslil said...

Have to try that.

Anonymous said...

I've been eating kabocha for years and never knew you could eat the rind!
Thank you!
(Lovely pics, BTW)

Marie

Josie said...

Looks great, thanks for sharing the recipe :)

Tammy said...

I keep reading about this stuff, but had never seen a pic. Now I know what those things in the produce section are!! Thanks!! I'll be buying some this coming week. Gonna' have to pass on the coconut stuff though...ewww. Yellow (summer) squash is my all-time favorite vegetable, and I love all the fall/winter squashes baked in the oven, usually with a tough of cinnamon and nutmeg sprinkled on them. Can't wait to try this one...I think I'll make a soup out of it, too! Yay! :)

Low Carber said...

Kabocha = Pumpkin in Japanese. The rind is very edible and there are numerous ways to eat Kabocha. Kabocha grilled in a simple marinade, kabocha tempura, kabocha diced and added to an asian salad with sesame dressing...etc..

Be forwarned that Kabocha are very dificult to cut..hard as a rock but if you cut it in half, take out the core of seeds pit it in a bowl and cover with wrap.. add a couple of tablespoons of water and nuke just long enough to get it steamy inside..let it stay in the stean a few minutes and then cut it like butter :)

katrinatjday said...

I can't tell you how thrilled I am that you featured a filipino recipe Lyn (being half filipino myself) - there's another delicious and very similar recipe which involves squash (it can be any kind but I like butternut, for the sweetness), onion, garlic and coconut milk (no broth) - but you add green beans and prawns. Amazingly naturally sweet and creamy, and great with brown rice.

Leslie said...

Thanks for the recipe. I love all winter squash but haven't tried the K&%$*#a yet. It's now on my list. I bet it would be good just sort of steamed or baked with olive oil and S&P. I might want to OD on the coconut milk!

VeeGettingHealthy said...

Thanks for the raw warning. My kid and I don't like cooked veggies (except maybe corn and green beans) so I would have tried this squash raw. Of course, we might be fine, but still... good to keep in the back of my mind.

Vee at www.veegettinghealthy.blogspot.com

redballoon said...

I live in Japan and kabocha is huge here. There's nothing like it to warm you on a cold winter day. I love it.

Vickie said...

can't remember if it is this same food or another - but years ago on one of the Top Chef finales in Hawaii - they were cooking with a food that many people were allergic to in its raw form and they had to be very careful to thoroughly cook it. Even so Padma said that she had a tightness in her throat after eating it.

Tricia said...

Never heard of it, but I will definately look for it now. Looks great!

redballoon said...

I didn't know about it being an allergen raw, but believe me, you don't want to eat it raw. Just don't try and all will be fine. It's SO yummy cooked! Here in Japan, there are all sorts of desserts made with it as well, maybe which we shouldn't talk about on this blog . :)

bbubblyb said...

That looks really yummy and I just saw this at the grocery store and wondered how it would taste. Might have to try it since I do have a can of coconut milk in the fridge. Thanks for the idea.

Ria said...

Lyn, I just love your recipe posts . . . you always inspire me to try something new and healthy!

Dinah Soar said...

Sounds wonderful Lyn. I was thinking as I was reading your post--what a wonderfully intelligent young woman you are!

Deb said...

So glad to be reading about your farmer's market finds. I missed these posts. Maybe I'll hit my local farmer's market this weekend.

Name: Lynise said...

yum, I wonder if the receipe could be modified to reduce the calories by using evaporated milk with coconut essence.

I recently made butter chicken using evaporated milk and coconut essence and it was an absolute winner (with almost 1/3 less fat then using coconut cream or 1/4 less then coconut milk) so the same yummy flavour for less calories/fat.

Marie said...

I'm going to try the recipe with some of the rind on and some off, plus I'm going to add some shaved coconut to it and see how it turns out. To me, kabocha is like a pudding when it's cooked .. smooth, creamy, sweet and the best winter squash I've ever eaten.

Anonymous said...

kabocha is delicious beyond belief.
now that I'm working, I just rinse a whole one, put it in the oven in the morning at about 300 degrees, and let it just cook (on a roasting sheet with parchment paper). then I just open it up when I come home, take out the seeds, mash it and serve....with spices or with some feta cheese, whatever.

Anonymous said...

kabocha squash is yummy when its steamed.....smash it and add zaatar (just a little because its salty), or a teeny bit of cumin and small amount of ground meat into it. We also cook rice pasta (Tinkyada brand) and mix it with that. YUM

Sueso said...

I discovered this awhile ago and have used it as my substitute for mashed taters. I LOVE it! Thanks for this recipe..had no idea you could eat the skin! (Rind.)