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.

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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).

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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.

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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.

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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 Replies to “What is kabocha? (FAQ)”

  1. 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. Maggie, I was just put kabocha in oven!!!! 😀 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!!! 😀

  3. 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!

  4. 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!).

  5. 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. 🙂

  6. 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!

  7. 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! 🙂

  8. 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!

  9. 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!

  10. 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!

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

  12. 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. 🙂

  13. 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 🙂

  14. 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. 🙂

  15. 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.

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