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Braised Kabocha Squash Recipe

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This delicious braised kabocha squash recipe is made with soy sauce, mirin, sugar, and a little instant dashi. It's simmered to tenderness and the natural sweetness of the squash shines through.

You can serve it on its own or in a rice bowl. It saves well and keeps for several days, so you can use it in salads or rice bowls the whole week!

This is my favorite way to make kabocha squash because the sweet and savory sauce makes it so delicious.

Braised kabocha squash topped with sesame seeds.

Why You'll Love this Kabocha Squash Recipe

This delicious kabocha squash recipe is made by simmering the squash with a mixture of soy sauce, mirin, brown sugar, and a pinch of instant dashi. It's a savory side dish for special occasions or a fantastic veggie main course.

It's a classic Japanese preparation of kabocha squash that can be served on its own or with seasoned rice with some sliced fresh green onions and sesame seeds.

This flavorful squash is hearty and filling. It's easy to save in the refrigerator for several days, so you can prepare it on the weekend and use it in salads and rice bowls throughout the week. It can be served warm or at room temperature.

Kabocha squash, brown sugar, mirin, soy sauce, instant dashi, and water.

Ingredients You'll Need

Squash - You'll need one medium kabocha squash. Look for a dark green squash without any gouges or gashes. Press the skin to make sure there are no bruises or soft spots.

Water - You'll use 1 cup of water as the base to braise the squash.

Soy Sauce - You'll need 2 tablespoons of soy sauce for the sauce.

Mirin - You'll use 2 tablespoons of mirin to season the sauce.

Brown Sugar - You'll need 1 tablespoon of brown sugar to sweeten the sauce. You can substitute this for maple syrup if necessary.

Instant Dashi - You'll need 1 teaspoon of instant dashi powder.

What is Kabocha Squash?

Kabocha squash, also called Japanese pumpkin, is a round winter squash with a dark green exterior and bright orange flesh. It looks like a large acorn squash.

Kabocha squash tastes like a combination of sweet potato and pumpkin - it has rich, velvety flesh with a mild flavor. It has edible skin (like all winter squash) once cooked.

Kabocha is popular in Japanese cooking but it's also used in Thai and Korean dishes as well. You can bake it, roast it, simmer it, and puree it like other winter squash. The seeds can be roasted like pumpkin seeds as well.

You can find kabocha squash at an Asian grocery store or the farmer's market. They're harvest in fall like other winter squash.

A kabocha squash cut in half.
Chunks of kabocha squash on a cutting board.

How to Make this Recipe

Prepare the Squash - Cut the squash in half with a large, sharp knife. The outer skin is tough, so be careful with the first slice. You can leave the skin on, once simmered it becomes tender. Scoop the seeds and stringy insides out of the center. Chop the squash into 2-inch pieces.

Make the Sauce - Combine the water, soy sauce, mirin, brown sugar, and instant dashi in a large stockpot over high heat. Stir and bring to a boil for 2 minutes. 

Simmer the Squash - Add the squash to the pot. Stir and cover the pot with a lid. Bring to a boil and reduce to medium heat. Let simmer for 8 to 10 minutes or until fork tender, stirring occasionally.

Plate - Serve the squash on its own as a side dish or pair with seasoned rice, sliced green onions, and sesame seeds for a main course.

Kabocha squash braising in a large pot.
Braised kabocha squash in a large serving bowl.

More Squash Recipes to Try

Love winter squash recipes? Try some of these delicious dishes.

Kabocha squash pieces with rice in a bowl.

Tips for Making this Recipe

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Cooking Tips - Prick the squash with a fork to test tenderness. If it slips in easily, the squash will be tender enough.

Specialty Ingredients - This recipe calls for instant dashi, this is the brand I used.

Recommended Tools - I highly recommend using a large chef's knife to cut the squash. Kabocha squash has a tough outer rind, so you need a large, sharp knife to cut it!

Storing Tips - The cooked squash can be saved in the refrigerator for up to 5 days in an airtight container.

Diet/Allergy Alternatives - If you want to keep this recipe vegan or vegetarian, substitute the instant dashi for vegetarian dashi or leave it out.

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Yield: 4 to 6 servings

Kabocha Squash Recipe

Kabocha squash pieces with rice in a bowl.

This delicious braised kabocha squash recipe is a hearty, healthy way to enjoy winter squash.

Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons mirin
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon instant dashi
  • 1 kabocha squash, chopped into 2-inch pieces
  • optional to serve - sesame seeds, sliced green onions, rice

Instructions

  1. Combine the water, soy sauce, mirin, brown sugar, and instant dashi in a large stockpot over high heat. Stir and bring to a boil for 2 minutes. 
  2. Add the squash. Stir and cover the pot with a lid. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to medium. Let simmer for 8 to 10 minutes or until tender, stirring occasionally.
  3. Optional - serve with rice, sliced green onion, and sesame seeds.

Nutrition Information:

Yield:

4

Serving Size:

1

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 90Total Fat: 0gSaturated Fat: 0gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 0gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 446mgCarbohydrates: 20gFiber: 3gSugar: 12gProtein: 3g

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