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Trying new fruit and veggies is always insanely fun and can lead to a very rewarding experience if done right. While it is always worth it to try new things, you can sometimes be easily intimidated by how little you know about new foods. In this case, if you are wanting to try a kabocha squash for the first time ever, you may be scared by how it looks and how you know nothing when it comes to peeling and preparing this Japanese pumpkin. Well, fret not as this is what we are just about to cover.
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What Is A Kabocha Squash?
Kabocha squash is a type of winter squash that is also commonly referred to as a Japanese pumpkin. The exterior appearance of this squash is like a small pumpkin that has very dull green skin. There are also some white stripes on these pumpkins that form random patterns. The appearance on both the inside and outside is very similar to butternut squash.
On the inside of this winter squash, there is a lively and intense yellow color that is immediately visible. This flesh tastes similar to butternut squash but is a lot sweeter. Some people compare it to a mix between a pumpkin and a sweet potato. The rind on this squash is entirely edible but is often removed as it makes the cooking process take significantly longer.
Kabocha Squash – Nutritional Info
While you would expect the standard nutritional info to be present such as fiber and vitamins, kabocha squash is exceptionally high in beta carotene. Beta carotene is a carotenoid that is famed for being rich in Vitamin A. This vitamin is essential for a healthy immune system, good vision, and clear skin.
Alongside beta carotene, there is a high amount of fiber, sugar, carbohydrates, and vitamin C. In a 2/3 cup of kabocha squash there is;
- 30 calories
- 0g fat
- 0mg sodium
- 8.2g carbohydrates
- 1.2g fiber
- 3.5g sugars
- 1.1g protein
- 1,782mg beta carotene
- 9mg vitamin C
The vitamins and minerals found in kabocha squash are known to help with lowering cancer risk, support eye health, and boost your immune system. This is a very healthy squash to add to your diet although the high number of carbs make this a veggie you might want to avoid if you are following a keto diet.
How To Peel A Kabocha Squash
Before you can cook a kabocha squash, you must prepare it. Whether you want to try a recipe that leaves the peel on or not is up to you, however, we will discuss how to peel it as once it is peeled, it is a lot easier to introduce to any dish, meal, or recipe.
The size of kabocha squash is nothing to sneeze at so you may want to prepare a decent-sized worksurface first, with the proper cutlery and equipment. I recommend a working area that is big enough for you to comfortably work on all sides of the squash without feeling cramped or uncomfortable. As for equipment, you will need a large, sharp knife and a tablespoon. The knife can be longer than the squash is wide, if you want. However, at the very least, the knife should be longer than the squash is tall.
Firstly, you will want to get your squash into a more manageable shape. You cannot work efficiently while it is as awkward-shaped as that, so it is best to cut into in half vertically. If your knife is long enough to do this in one slice, then that is fine. However, for people with smaller knives, it is best to place the tip of your knife in the middle of the squash and make a singular slice going to the outside. Rotate your squash 180 degrees and then replicate the initial slice. Afterward, you should be left with two halves.
Now that you are accompanied by two halves, it is time to get rid of the seeds and pulp inside the center. This is where you should use your tablespoon and keep scooping until the whole kabocha is clean. If you do not want to use a tablespoon, you can opt for a melon baller instead, or scoop it out with your hands as you do with pumpkin seeds on Halloween.
Now that you are left with your two clean halves of the squash, you can place them on a cutting board with the flat side facing downward. You can now cut this into wedges of similar sizes. The sizes are up to you but this is the most efficient way to eventually peel kabocha squash.
When you are left with a handful of squash wedges, you can cut the peel off of them. Sadly, this cannot be done in one cut so it is best to do multiple cuts for each wedge and try to cut off as little flesh as possible. After you have peeled your wedges, you can decide how to prepare the flesh.
If you want to slice your squash wedges, simply use a claw grip to hold the wedges and make even slices vertically until you run out of squash to cut.
Alternatively, if you are wanting to dice your kabocha squash you can easily do this too. Dicing is good for cooking it quickly and also will make mashing it easier if you plan to do that. To dice your squash, make several vertical cuts in the wedge of squash that go all the way through. Before you move the cut pieces, make sure you keep them all in place. Once you have made all the cuts you want on one side, rotate the wedge by 90 degrees and repeat this process. This will leave you with a lot of evenly-sized pieces of kabocha squash.
How To Cook A Kabocha Squash
While you can use kabocha squash in the same way you use other squash such as acorn squash, spaghetti squash, and butternut squash, there are also some other methods that really make this veggie shine. If you want to cook kabocha squash but do not know how, don’t worry, here are some easy methods.
This is a very popular Japanese side dish and involves kabocha wedges being covered in flour and a splash of water. These two ingredients will make a very thick layer on the kabocha which will then need to be fried in oil until it is crispy. The oil used can be anything you want but the best choices are either olive oil or coconut oil.
Roasted Kabocha Squash
Before you start to cut kabocha squash, you will want to preheat your oven to 400 degrees F. Once you have your wedges ready, you can season them in a mix of sea salt, pepper, and olive oil. It is best to peel kabocha squash before this so that you can evenly season the wedges as well as have them evenly cook.
Once the wedges are seasoned and ready, place them on an aluminum foil-lined baking tray and cover them in oil. Roast these in the oven until they are tender. This is usually going to take 30 minutes but depending on the size of your wedges, this may differ.
Once they are cooked, you can eat as many as you want. Any leftover wedges should be cooled to room temperature and then stored in the fridge for up to four days in an airtight container.
Kabocha Squash Soup
After roasting your kabocha wedges, you could choose to turn them into a soup. This can be done by stewing your roasted wedges with vegetable stock until they are tender. Once they are tender you can puree them with a blender until it is a smooth liquid. This soup is delicious and can be flavored to taste with salt, pepper, chili flakes, or paprika.
Roasted Kabocha Seeds
Similar to pumpkin seeds, you can roast kabocha seeds and season them with salt to make a very healthy and enjoyable snack.
Should You Add Kabocha To Your Diet?
If you are looking for more food to add to your diet, then kabocha may just be the right choice for you. It is so similar to other types of squash that you will have no difficulty learning how to cook with it. On top of this, it is delicious and sweet and can be prepared in so many different ways. Not only is kabocha healthy and tasty, but if you follow this guide, it is also really easy to prepare.