It’s winter again and one of my favorite ingredients this time of year is Kabocha Squash. We’ve been using kabocha in some of our tried and tested favorites while also working on some new recipes using this wonderful winter squash. The recipe we have today is a braised dish with a Taiwanese inspired sweet and salty flavor with just a bit of zing from the addition of fresh ginger. As the squash absorbs the braising liquids it becomes rich and flavorful with a slightly soft and delicate texture.
This Braised Kabocha Squash with Ginger can be served as a stand alone dish or a hearty addition to congee, rice or sautéed greens. It’s a simple recipe with Taiwanese flavors, easily prepared in one-pan and best when enjoyed piping hot with a garnish of fresh cilantro.
Kabocha squash is grown year-round but are best from the end of summer through winter. They’re easy to prepare, have a firm green skin and a dense orange flesh. If you can’t find kabocha squash, try using a red kuri squash. In a pinch, butternut squash can be used but will be sweeter and softer than kabocha.
This recipe is cooked in one pan and will require a lid. For best results, use a deep 10” cast-iron pan.
Braised Kabocha Squash with Ginger
Yield: 4 servings
- 1 tablespoon grated or finely chopped fresh ginger, peeled
- 2 garlic cloves, put through a press or smashed
- ½ large kabocha squash or other yellow-fleshed squash (about 1.75-2 lb)* (See notes below)
- 2 tablespoons of canola or other neutral oil
- 1 tablespoon vegan cane sugar
- Pinch of white pepper
- 125ml or ½ cup hot vegetable broth
- 2 ½ tablespoons soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon mirin or sweet rice wine
- 3 tablespoons chopped cilantro leaves for garnish
In a small bowl or measuring cup whisk sugar, white pepper, mirin, soy sauce and broth. Set the sauce aside and pre-heat a cast iron pan or deep, heavy skillet over medium heat.
Turn the temperature to medium-high and add oil to coat the bottom of the pan. Add ginger and garlic and cook until fragrant – around 30 seconds.
Add the sauce mixture to the ginger and garlic and then carefully place the squash pieces in the pan in a single layer. Cook for 10 minutes, flipping once. Cover, reduce heat to low and cook for an additional 30 minutes, flipping once. When the squash is tender and easily slides off a fork or chopstick when pierced, it is ready.
Transfer to a large bowl and toss with cilantro.
Preparing and cutting squash: Slice the kabocha squash in half and remove the hard green skin. Scoop and discard the seeds and stringy flesh from the center. Cut the remaining squash into 1” by 2” pieces. If you prefer them smaller try 1-inch cubes, but note that the cooking time will be quicker and the resulting dish will be slightly saucier. Once peeled and seeded, the prepared squash should weigh around 1 lb.
If using a larger kabocha squash, save the remaining sliced and uncooked squash in a sealed container or bag in the fridge.