Sunday, September 26, 2021

Chinoiserie Squash

Kabocha Squash

I bought a couple of these darling squash yesterday at Publix for Halloween decorating for my kitchen and then to use in a new recipe. When I got home and Googled them, I discovered that it is a Japanese squash. 

The squat, green kabocha—the Japanese word for squash—has a nutty, earthy flavor with just a touch of sweetness. This Japanese squash has a squatty shape, green rind, and orange flesh. The dense flesh and sweet flavor makes it well-suited for mashing and using in baked goods. It is also commonly used in soups, and is primarily grown and eaten in Japan, South Korea, Thailand, China, and the United States.

Here is a recipe I plan to try with from Epicurious using one of my new Le Creusets.

Sake-Steamed Chicken and Kabocha Squash

The secret to juicy, tender, delicately steamed white-meat chicken and squash? Going slow.


4 servings

2 dried chiles de √°rbol, seeded, crushed, or 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

1 cup sake

1 (2-inch) piece ginger, peeled, cut into thin matchsticks

2 (8-ounce) skin-on or skinless, boneless chicken breasts

Kosher salt

1/4 small kabocha or red kuri squash, seeded, sliced crosswise into 3/4-inch-thick half-moons, then sliced in half again

2 scallions, sliced on a diagonal, plus more for serving

Step 1

Combine chiles, sake, and 1 cup water in a pot. Fit with a steamer basket and arrange ginger in basket. Season chicken with salt and place in steamer basket, skin side up; add squash and 2 sliced scallions. Cover pot and steam chicken and squash over medium heat, adding more water by 1/4-cupfuls if needed, until squash is tender and chicken is just cooked through, 16–20 minutes.

Step 2

Remove steamer basket from pot and bring liquid to a boil. Cook until flavors are concentrated and liquid thickens, 6–8 minutes (you should have about 3 Tbsp.).

Step 3

Slice chicken and arrange on plates with squash. Pour steaming liquid over and top with additional scallions.

This recipe also sounds great.

Sake-Steamed Kabocha Squash With White Miso

YIELD 6 servings
TIME About 30 minutes

Evan Sung for The New York Times

This steamed kabocha squash is astonishingly delicious straight from the pan or cold the next day. —David Tanis

Featured in: Sharing Lessons From A Farm In Japan

1  pound kabocha squash (about half a medium squash), seeds removed
3  tablespoons white miso
6  tablespoons sake
3  tablespoons canola oil or mild vegetable oil
6  small dried red chile peppers
 Kosher salt
1  teaspoon sesame oil, optional

Using a vegetable peeler, peel squash very lightly, still keeping it green at the edge. Cut squash lengthwise into 1-inch-wide wedges, then cut the wedges crosswise into 1/4-inch slices.
In a small bowl, combine miso and 3 tablespoons sake, stir and set aside.
Heat oil in a wide skillet over medium. Add chile peppers and let them sizzle, then add squash and stir to coat. Sprinkle lightly with salt. Spread out squash slices in one layer and cook gently without browning for about 3 minutes. Add remaining 3 tablespoons of sake and cover with lid. Allow squash to steam for about 2 minutes more, until it is just cooked through.
Add miso-sake mixture and sesame oil, if using, carefully combining to coat squash slices without smashing or breaking them. Serve hot, at room temperature or cold.

Do you have an online subscription to NY Times Cooking? It's only $20 the first year and I absolutely love it. It is life changing if you want to get excited about cooking. Their equipment reviews are also wonderful.

One summer I took cooking classes in East Hampton with Craig Claiborne and Pierre Franey. Here is a great story.

In the early ’90s, Pierre Franey hit a deer while driving in Springs in East Hampton. Always dedicated to using the freshest ingredients in his cooking, the famous chef tossed the carcass in his trunk and brought it home to make venison. When he opened the trunk when he arrived home on Gerard Drive, however, the deer that was supposed to be dinner jumped out and ran away.

Although it didn’t work out that evening, Mr. Franey and best friend and collaborator Craig Claiborne are widely credited as being the fathers of the fresh food movement.


  1. Al Spok All the dishes look GREAT. I going to make this Fall. Thanks, Al

  2. I love your blog - I always learn something new.

  3. My Japanese exchange students introduced me to it many years ago. I use it in place of butternut squash in all recipes as I prefer its buttery taste. I also love it sliced and cooked in a skillet partially submerged in water until tender. Add a mixture of Mirin, Soy Sauce and sugar which cooks down and makes a glaze.

  4. Puerto Ricans cook it with our beans. We call it "calabaza." Tasty!

    1. I will look up a recipe - I love every type of bean. Thanks!