5 Kabocha Squash Dishes You Must Try in Japan This Late Summer!

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  • Kabocha squash (南瓜) is a Japanese household item which one has as a side dish mainly in the form of a salad or soup in washoku (和食), the traditional Japanese meal. Kabocha usually refers to winter squash and it is cooked as an appetizer or side dish in Japan. The flavor of kabocha is uniquely sweet, like a blend of sweet potato and pumpkin. Kabocha season is coming in a few months before the beginning of fall so here are five kabocha dishes you must try in Japan!

    1. Kabocha Tempura

    Kabocha tempura is one of the best dishes you should try in a Japanese restaurant. If you are becoming vegan, kabocha tempura may be a substitute for your tempura fix. Thinly sliced pieces of kabocha are dipped in tempura batter and fried well to get that crispy look and yummy taste. You can savor this with sauce as an appetizer or eat it with rice for lunch.

    2. Kabocha Soup

    Japanese soup dishes are exceptional, especially the miso soup that everybody loves to have during their meals. Kabocha soup is equally delicious as miso soup and is a serious must-have. It consists of kabocha, chicken broth, and cream, and is a pure delight. Usually, you can savor on this thick delicious soup in the fall or winter months in many traditional Japanese restaurants.

    3. Kabocha Nimono (煮物)

    Nimono is a method of Japanese cooking where the dish is cooked in liquid. To cook kabocha nimono, you usually use dashi, a Japanese broth that is common in many soup dishes. Dashi is prepared by boiling fish (usually kelp and fermented tuna) in water and later removing that fish. You can also add other ingredients to it for more flavor such as soy sauce or sake, or any leftover broth of other Japanese dishes.

    Do you know that dashi’s taste (also called “umami”) is considered as one of the five basic tastes of Japan due to its uniqueness? Kabochas are cooked and served in this dashi, and you would definitely be wanting this dish.

    4. Kabocha Korokke

    Kabocha korokke are nothing but croquettes made of kabocha squash. Tired of potato-based croquettes? Then go for kabocha korokke as they can be easily made and are equally delicious. The procedure to prepare is same as that of a potato croquette. Mash the kabochas, coat them in panko (bread crumbs), and fry.

    5. Kabocha Purin

    Oh, yeah! The Japanese love their pudding, which they call as “purin.” Custard pudding is all you really need after a nice meal at a restaurant.

    The ingredients needed to prepare a kabocha-based purin is caramel, egg, kabocha, milk, and sugar. Caramel is something you can easily make by letting sugar boil in water for a long time until it gets dissolved and becomes brown and fragrant. Later, you mix kabocha meat, egg yolk, milk, and sugar separately in a juicer to make a thick blend. After that, pour the caramel into a mold, then add the custard mixture. Bake it for about an hour and let it cool. There you go, your kabocha purin is ready!

    These are the five kabocha dishes you must try in Japan this late summer and early fall. As kabochas are seasonal, you definitely do not want to miss its flavor. You can easily get kabochas in any supermarket in Japan.