What is kabocha? (FAQ)

One of the most common questions/comments I get is this: “what is kabocha?”

14-kabocha

Kabocha is a Japanese pumpkin.  Kabocha is actually just the Japanese word for squash.  It’s dark green (though it can have orange-y spots too) and hard.  The inside is orange.  It hardens as it ripens.  I once bought a few kabochas from a sketchy place that were not ripe (they weren’t sweet, and they were much easier to cut) but I didn’t realize it until after I had cut into them.  This only happened once, so I wouldn’t worry too much about it.  You can usually find them at an Asian market but I’ve seen them at the farmers’ market and Whole Foods as well. In season they’re as low as $0.50/pound, but anything under $1/pound is a good price (I’ll go up to $1.30 or so at the max).

Kabocha are usually about 2-3 pounds (the ones I get are around 2 pounds), but I think that they can get much bigger than that.  I often eat a whole kabocha in one day.  It hasn’t turned me orange (yet).  I think they’re slightly more starchy than a butternut, but taste way better (IMHO).

Kabocha are high in beta carotene, vitamin C, vitamins B1 and B2, and more.  I’ve found different nutritional info online.  This site lists it as 60 calories per 100 grams (544 calories per 2 pounds), but this site lists it as 30 calories per 85 grams (320 calories per 2 pounds).  Too much confusion, and I don’t care anymore – just give me my kabocha :) They are a great part of a healthy macrobiotic diet.

15-kabocha-steam

My favorite way to cook it is to steam the kabocha. I cut it up in chunks (throwing away the seeds, but you could roast them if you wanted to) and steam it for about 5-7 minutes.  You should be able to pierce it quite easily with a fork when it’s done.  I usually top mine with parmesan, brown sugar, and/or earth balance/butter (any mix of the 3).

16-kabocha-with-parm

You can also toss the steamed kabocha in a salad, topped with more parm of course (or not).  This salad was a base of romaine, plus sauteed veggies (cauliflower, shiitake mushrooms, daikon), steamed kabocha, pickled lettuce (something I got @ the Chinese market), parmesan, and the last of my tj’s raspberry vinaigrette.

17-kabocha-salad

Another great way to enjoy kabocha is kabocha fries.  In this case you can follow the directions for my butternut squash fries, or you can simplify it a bit by microwaving the kabocha chunks for 5-7 minutes, then sticking them under the broiler for 5 minutes or so (until they get crispy).  Coco has tried the microwaving version and she liked the way they turned out.  Try dipping the fries in my homemade unsweetened ketchup.  Divine.

13-kabocha-ketchup

What’s your favorite way to eat kabocha?  If you haven’t tried it yet, what’s your favorite way to eat another squash?  (And if you haven’t tried it – DO IT.)

61 Comments on What is kabocha? (FAQ)

  1. Pearl
    29 April, 2009 at 4:23 pm (6 years ago)

    my mom makes a delish kabocha dish by first cutting it into pieces, then sauteeing them in a little bit of EVOO and garlic, then adding water and letting it cook until the inside is soft and the water is gone; then salt + a little bit of granulated sweetener!

  2. Shelby
    29 April, 2009 at 4:33 pm (6 years ago)

    I need to find myself some Kabocha! I’ve never tried it =0

  3. coco
    29 April, 2009 at 4:40 pm (6 years ago)

    Maggie, I was just put kabocha in oven!!!! :D such a coincidence that I’m craving it!!! We must have some six connection out there to be thinking the same food at the same time!!!
    You haven’t turned yellow yet??? so lucky!! Because I have to limit my kabocha intake otherwise I”m all orange!!! :D

  4. Cindy
    29 April, 2009 at 5:18 pm (6 years ago)

    Haven’t tried Kabocha yet… on the hunt for some
    HOWEVER we eat all the winter squashes clear into summer.

    mostly I love slicing and baking with drizzled olive oil and s/p

    AND
    lately my hubs has been grilling it for me, sliced and rubbed with herbs/olive oil

    and we ALWAYS bake and eat the seeds… very good for you and we fight over them.

    Thanks for the Kabocha info Maggie!

  5. Olga
    29 April, 2009 at 5:46 pm (6 years ago)

    O0o thanks for the info!

    Favorite way to eat butternut squash is definitely in fries form!

  6. The Dainty Pig
    29 April, 2009 at 5:53 pm (6 years ago)

    mmmmm. your post warms my heart. I love love love kabocha (but you already knew that). The next one I get, i’m going to try steaming….but I do really like them baked. They get so rich and creamy, it really is almost like a dessert! I sometimes eat a whole one in a day too, and i’m not orange yet either! They are so filling and delicious, and are a great compliment to ANY meal (think with oats for breakfast, even!).

  7. Jen
    29 April, 2009 at 7:02 pm (6 years ago)

    Great informative post. I’ve never been brave enough to try all the different kinds of squash I’ve been missing out on! I like squash best when it’s roasted in the oven, and then eaten together with some kind of grain component. :)

  8. ttfn300
    29 April, 2009 at 7:16 pm (6 years ago)

    haven’t tried that one yet, but i will!

  9. gina (fitnessista)
    29 April, 2009 at 8:00 pm (6 years ago)

    i have no idea if i’ll ever be able to find that in valdosta, but i will be on the lookout when i go out of town!
    thanks for the info and the cooking tips… i’d be wondering!
    have a great night!

  10. Lara (Thinspired)
    30 April, 2009 at 12:33 am (6 years ago)

    This is great! I’ve never tried kabocha but I would definitely be open to it. Something tell me I won’t easily find it in Britain! When I do get a hold of some, I’ll be looking to your blog with ideas on how to eat it! :)

  11. Sophia
    30 April, 2009 at 2:48 am (6 years ago)

    what is kabocha? WHAT is KABOCHA?!! do you even have to ask? it is only the most freaking delicious thing ever in this entire earth! I eat a whole pound of it (and more) a day in everything. I most prefer it just plain roasted in the oven, but I also mash the flesh into oatmeal, cook it into pancakes, add cubes of it into pilaf, and puree it into soup, and bake it into all sorts of delicious goods! in fact, if you look at my blog, almost all my recipes have some sort of kabocha/pumpkin/squash added to it. that’s how much I freaking love this little carbilicious veggie!

  12. K
    30 April, 2009 at 7:06 am (6 years ago)

    Thanks for the 411! I’ve never had it before :)

  13. Biz
    30 April, 2009 at 10:37 am (6 years ago)

    I have yet to find these, but I haven’t looked all that hard either!

    I love fried zucchini made with panko bread crumbs and parmesan cheese – and I also like zucchini boats – hollow out the zucchini and fill with ground beef and homemade marinara – which reminds me, I haven’t made that in ages!

    Happy Thursday!

  14. Sharon
    30 April, 2009 at 12:13 pm (6 years ago)

    Thanks for sharing! I have seen those before, but never picked one up!

  15. gliding calm
    2 May, 2009 at 11:50 am (6 years ago)

    OOO ! I have been rec. to try these, but I have yet to take the plunge!! thanks for all of the great info Maggie!!!!

  16. Tra
    4 May, 2009 at 11:19 am (6 years ago)

    i eat it ‘nimono” so i simmer it in a broth of dashi until its soft, and then add mirin, sugar, soysauce and salt and simmer until its all soft and absorbed. DELISH!

  17. Hil
    19 May, 2009 at 7:30 pm (6 years ago)

    I have never even heard of this vegetable. Thank you for introducing me to a new food!

  18. Erin
    24 June, 2009 at 4:08 pm (6 years ago)

    I just found this squash here (miracle) and was so glad I flagged this post awhile ago! About to make some fries, nom nom!

  19. Jordan
    5 August, 2009 at 2:12 pm (6 years ago)

    LOVE kabocha! I chop mine into bigger chunks, and cook them in a shallow baking dish with some water and some coconut oil brushed on top. Finished with some almond butter. I haven’t steamed but that’s next. :)

  20. Candice
    11 August, 2009 at 10:18 am (6 years ago)

    Hi! I just tried kabocha for the first time today and I’m in LOVE. The only problem is that my hand is super sore from chopping it up… so I was wondering what method you use to cut yours. Maybe I just need some arm muscles :)

  21. Tina
    18 September, 2009 at 12:03 pm (6 years ago)

    Yay for kabocha! And so my quest begins… tomorrow, the Asian markets shall know the wrath of the Kabocha Finder!

  22. Mandie
    22 December, 2009 at 9:43 pm (5 years ago)

    roasting kabocha is definitely my absolute favorite. if you haven’t tried roasting it for double the time (about two hours), trust me, it’s a must. one day i accidently did this and it turned out better than ever. :)

  23. Erendez
    3 January, 2010 at 1:04 pm (5 years ago)

    To cut open the kabocha without bruising your fingers, try using a hammer–breaks it apart immediately, then you can use a knife to make smaller pieces.

  24. Nancy
    10 March, 2010 at 7:49 pm (5 years ago)

    I make it with beans puertorrican style…..Love Kabocha

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