What do you know about the kabocha squash? It’s that cute little squash that appears in the grocery store when Fall creeps closer. And whether you like it or not, Fall is coming. So you better get out those pumpkin spice candles, rub on some Autumn-scented lotion and throw on a scarf because it’s happening September 23rd!
Fall is a great season not only because of the ideal weather, but also because it brings back those delicious comfort foods we all love.
So before you break out the flannel, Ugg boots and throw a pile of leaves in the air, take a look at one of our favorite Fall squashes: the kabocha squash.
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What is the kabocha squash?
My first encounter with kabocha squash wasn’t through a blog or a food sale paper. It happened when I first moved to South Korea and was trying to find canned pumpkin to make some tasty Fall snacks.
Interestingly enough, in Korean the word “squash” is “hobak” and it actually applies to multiple vegetables including: zucchini, pumpkin, butternut squash and kabocha squash. Needless to say, when the grocery store owner handed me a kabocha squash instead of the traditional orange pumpkin I thought I asked for, I was a bit confused.
The kabocha squash is a small winter squash that is green with bumpy-looking skin and sometimes has white stripes on the outside. The inside of this squat pumpkin is a vibrant yellow-orange color, which is truly the most important part.
Unlike a typical pumpkin that I usually carve around Halloween time, the inside of the kabocha squash is definitely sweeter. This exceptional pumpkin is unique and perfect for making soups, side dishes and can substitute for any recipe calling for sweet potatoes or pumpkin.
When is it in season?
Luckily for you die-hard fans of kabocha squash, it is available year-round, but the best come around at the end of summer and early Fall. Something to note about kabocha squash is that when it is first harvested, it is still growing and maturing. This means that in order for the squash to become sweet and flavorful, you need to wait 1.5-3 months after harvesting it before it can be used for cooking.
When picking a kabocha squash make sure that it has hard skin and a dry, corky stem. That way, you’re sure to pick a winner with reddish-yellow flesh that is fully ripened.
What’s the nutritional breakdown?
When looking at the nutritional information for one cup of cooked kabocha squash, it yields 49 calories, 0.2 grams of fat, 1.8 grams of protein, 12 grams of carbohydrates and 2.7 grams of dietary fiber.
Additionally, this squash is rich in vitamins and minerals including Vitamin C, Vitamin A, potassium and magnesium. VeryWellFit.com explains the importance of these vitamins and mineral and states that Vitamin C is essential for bone structure, muscles and that it helps the body heal itself faster.
Furthermore, Vitamin A is key to having healthy skin and vision and kabocha squash provides 70% of your daily needs of Vitamin A.
Finally, the potassium and magnesium found in kabocha squash help the body balance body fluids and blood pressure.
How do I cut it?
If you’ve been convinced that eating kabocha squash can only benefit your health, then it’s time to get cooking! Since kabocha squash is a tough little vegetable, it is crucial that you are careful when cutting it.
Most recommend using a cleaver knife with cutting a kabocha squash and this should be done in a rocking motion. Additionally, some people like to cook the squash a little bit before slicing and dicing.
You can soften it by microwaving the squash for 4-5 minutes or baking it for 10 minutes (at about 400 degrees Fahrenheit). Once the squash has cooled a bit, you can then proceed to cut it into wedges and then roast the rest.
How do I cook it?
Kabocha squash can be prepared by baking, roasting, simmering, boiling or grilling it. I may be biased, but I think the best way to cook a kabocha squash is to roast it at 400 degrees Fahrenheit for 30-40 minutes, since making it this way is faster, cleaner and tastier.
Through roasting a kabocha squash, you can maximize the flavor by letting those sugars in the flesh caramelize while soaking in your choice of oil or spices.
Another interesting fact about kabocha squash is that once cooked, the skin is also edible! Keeping the skin provides variety in texture, taste and even helps you get more dietary fiber into your diet so give that skin a chance.
My favorite way to prepare kabocha squash with the skin is roasting it after tossing it in olive oil or coconut oil.
Lately, I have been leaning towards coconut oil since the coconut compliments the sweetness of the kabocha squash. Not only is coconut oil delicious, but it’s also a superfood. Coconut is often called a “superfood” because it not only provides essential fats, but it’s also capable of fighting bacteria within the body, supporting metabolic functions, helping with hormone production and improving cognitive performance.
Last but not least, seasoning kabocha squash can be done with a pinch of salt, pepper and cinnamon!
Depending on whether you prefer sweet or savory dishes, kabocha squash can be prepared with either or, which makes this versatile vegetable perfect for any kitchen.
Here are some other squash recipes you might like:
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