Although kabocha squash is a distinctly Japanese dish -- in fact, it's often called Japanese pumpkin -- it's also used in Thai curry dishes and tempura platters. This butternut-like veggie packs a nutrient punch as it contains plenty of beta-carotene, iron, fiber and vitamin C. It also lends itself to a variety of preparation methods. Though it's commonly roasted, you can also simmer or steam kabocha.
Prepare the kabocha for roasting. Thoroughly rinse the squash under running water and dry it with a clean cloth or paper towel. Peel the kabocha with a sharp vegetable peeler or knife if desired -- or you can eat the nutritious skin. Scoop out the seeds and cut the squash into slices or cubes, depending on your dish and preference.
Preheat your oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit as you prep the kabocha for roasting. Mix a mild oil, such as coconut or olive oil, and the seasonings of your choice in a mixing bowl and toss the wedges or cubes until they're lightly coated.
Place the squash on a foil-lined baking tray and roast for about 30 minutes. At the halfway point, flip the kabocha. When done, the roasted kabocha should have a crunchy exterior with a soft, moist interior.
Bring a pot of broth, such as the Japanese fish broth called dashi, to a boil to make simmered kabocha, or “kabocha no nimono.” Prepare your kabocha as the water heats up by washing it, cutting it in half, removing the seeds, and then cutting the kabocha into cubes. You can leave on the skin.
Place cubed kabocha in the broth using a slotted spoon. Reduce the heat to medium, cover the pot and boil for about 20 to 30 minutes. Add the seasonings of your choice, such as soy sauce, sugar and sake, and then reduce the heat to medium-low and cook for another 15 to 20 minutes.
Remove the pot from the heat -- and let the kabocha cool in the broth to absorb the broth's flavor. You can reheat it for serving if you want to eat your kabocha warm.
Boil a pot of water to begin preparing simple steamed kabocha. Boil the whole squash uncovered for about five minutes, flipping it as needed to ensure even cooking.
Allow the kabocha to cool completely, then cut off the top and bottom, and then cut it in half. Scoop out the seeds, cut the squash into cubes and combine the cubes with oil and seasonings like salt, pepper, grated ginger, honey and sugar.
Place the seasoned kabocha in a steamer and steam it over boiling water for another 15 minutes, or until the squash is soft.