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Simmered Kabocha Shio Koji

Try this quick and easy Japanese kabocha pumpkin dish simmered with shio koji. This umami-rich vegan-friendly and gluten-free dish has only 2 ingredients.

Have you ever try a Japanese kabocha pumpkin before? This quick and easy simmered kabocha in shio koji takes only 2 ingredients (kabocha and shio koji). The shio koji provides all the needed umami for this dish. Also, this pumpkin dish is vegan-friendly, gluten-free, and is even sugar-free! This dish fits almost everyone’s diet, so it is a good one to have in anyone’s repertoire of recipes.

(1) Whole kabocha pumpkin. (2) Kabocha pumpkin cut into two halves. (3) Kabocha pumpkin flesh. (4) Kabocha pumpkin seeds.

(1) Whole kabocha pumpkin. (2) Kabocha pumpkin cut into two halves. (3) Kabocha pumpkin flesh. (4) Kabocha pumpkin seeds.

What is kabocha pumpkin and how to prepare it?

Kabocha pumpkin originates from Japan and is a type of winter squash. The hard skin has a dark green color with celadon stripes, the meat has an intense yellow-orange color.

In terms of sweetness, kabocha is sweeter than butternut squash. The texture is somewhat in between that of a pumpkin and a sweet potato. The super tough rind is actually edible, though you can peel it to reduce cooking time.

Like most squashes, kabocha can be prepared for both savory dishes and sweet desserts. The seeds are also edible, so don’t throw them away. :)

How to cut a kabocha pumpkin?

First thing you need to know, kabocha pumpkin has a super tough skin, so you need a sharp knife. An all-purpose chef knife works, and that’s what I usually use. If you have a Chinese cleaver, by all means, use it, but it’s not necessary.

  1. Most whole kabocha pumpkins come with a stem. Use a spoon, or a knife, to remove it. With a spoon, just dig in a little, and the stem should pop right out on its own.
  2. Stick a sharp knife in the middle, and carefully cut the pumpkin into two halves.
  3. Remove the seeds with a spoon. Don’t throw them away, the seeds can be roasted into delicious roasted kabocha seeds.
  4. Slice each half into wedges or cubes depends on the recipe.

Soften kabocha with a microwave/an oven

If your kabocha is especially tough, a little time in the microwave can help tremendously. Once you remove the seeds, microwave the kabocha for 2-4 minutes, depends on how soft you need them to be.

If you don’t have a microwave, you can also try wrapping the kabocha in an aluminum foil (a whole pumpkin is okay, already cut into two halves is also okay) and bake in the oven at 200 Celsius (400 Fahrenheit) for 15-20 minutes. Again, baking time depends largely on how soft you need them to be.

Do I need to peel the rind from kabocha pumpkin?

In general, I don’t peel my kabocha. For savory dishes, like this simmered kabocha, or kabocha tempura, we usually try to keep the skin. But in dishes where you want to showcase the orange color of kabocha, especially in desserts, you will need to peel the skin. Here are two ways to peel kabocha skin:

  1. Peel the skin prior to cooking. Lay kabocha wedges flat on its side, then cut away the skin with a sharp knife. Cook and prepare following your recipe.
  2. Peel the skin after cooking. This is great when you need to puree kabocha. First, steam the kabocha wedges/pieces with skin on. The skin prevents the kabocha from sticking to the steamer basket. Once steamed, simply use a spoon or a knife to scoop the flesh from the skin and puree as needed.
Ingredients to prepare simmered kabocha in shio koji: kabocha pumpkin and shio koji.

Ingredients to prepare simmered kabocha in shio koji: kabocha pumpkin and shio koji.

What is shio koji?

Shio koji is a Japanese seasoning made from salt, water, and rice koji. Koji is a type of mold, called Aspergillus Oryzae, and is used to ferment all kinds of Japanese food, such as soy sauce, miso, rice vinegar, even sake (Japenese rice wine).

Aside from its chief duty to ferment stuff, shio koji is a great seasoning in its own right. It looks like a rice porridge, it has a faint sweet fermented fragrance, and with a sweet and salty taste.

Basically, it is an all-purpose seasoning. It can be used to marinate and tenderize fish and meat. It can be used for its saltiness like soy sauce, to replace salt.

Kabocha pumpkin in shio koji.

Kabocha pumpkin in shio koji.

How to cook simmered kabocha in shio koji?

For this recipe, we will need:

  • 500 gram (~ 1.1 lb) kabocha pumpkin meat with skin on, cut into 1” cubes
  • 1 12 tablespoon shio koji
  • water

Here is the super simple step-by-step to simmer the kabocha:

  1. Place kabocha cubes in a pot, then top with enough water to cover the pumpkin.
  2. Stir in shio koji.
  3. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cook for 5 minutes. A skewer will go smoothly once they are tender and fully cooked.
  4. Turn off the heat, cover the pot with a lid, and set aside for the flavor to improves. I usually let them rest for another 30 minutes.
  5. Serve the simmered kabocha cold, at room temperature, or warm.
Kabocha pumpkin in shio koji.

Kabocha pumpkin in shio koji.

Simmered Kabocha Shio Koji


5.0 from 5 reviews

Author: Anita Jacobson

Courses:

Cuisine:

Ingredients:

Diets:

Prep Time: 15 mins

Cook Time: 5 mins

Total Time: 20 mins

Serves: 12

Ingredients

  • 500 gram (~ 1.1 lb) kabocha pumpkin flesh, with skin on, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 1 1/2 tablespoon shio koji
  • water

Instructions

  1. Place kabocha cubes in a pot, then top with enough water to cover the pumpkin.
  2. Stir in shio koji.
  3. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cook for 5 minutes. A skewer will go smoothly once they are tender and fully cooked.
  4. Turn off the heat, cover the pot with a lid, and set aside for the flavor to improves. I usually let them rest for another 30 minutes.
  5. Serve the simmered kabocha cold, at room temperature, or warm.

Comments

  • Rebecca Rebecca says:

    I haven't tried shio koji before, but I NEED to try it now! this looks so easy and delicious

  • Sophie Sophie says:

    This looks like a perfect side dish for me. I love kabocha squash because it’s low in carb. Thanks for the recipe.

  • Cate Cate says:

    Yum! Looks so yummy and healthy, thanks for the idea!!

  • Suzy Suzy says:

    I actually haven’t tried this one before but we love winter squash and this sounds so simple but so tasty!

  • Tisha Tisha says:

    I have never had this before! I'm definitely interested in trying it!

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