Monday, February 28, 2011
Japanese cooking: kabocha no nimono (Japanese simmered pumpkin)
かぼちゃの煮物 (kabocha no nimono) is a very popular Japanese side-dish, especially in fall and winter when squash is in season. It has become a favourite at our house and it's super easy to make.
*kabocha (Japanese pumpkin)
*sugar (if desired)
*salt (if desired)
First, remove the seeds and cut up the kabocha into chunks leaving some of the green skin on. (The skin becomes soft during the simmering and adds colour contrast.)
Put the kabocha into a pot and cover with water. For a half pumpkin, I use about 400 ml of water with a good sprinkle of dashi powder mixed in. The water/dashi should just cover the kabocha chunks.
Bring it to a boil, then add the mirin, sake, and soy sauce. I usually use about two tablespoons of each. If desired, add a tablespoon of sugar. (I often use brown sugar but any would do.) Again if desired, add a sprinkle of salt.
Turn down the heat and cover with a paper towel. Simmer until the liquid has reduced, or until soft, but not mushy. Cool and serve.
Having looked at a few recipes online, both in English and Japanese, everyone seems to have their own ratio of sake/mirin/soy sauce. Some even eliminate the sake. Some add sugar, others don't. The same with salt. It's the kind of dish that you can easily adjust to your own taste. Basically, the sugar, and mirin will add sweetness. The soy sauce will add saltiness. You don't want the flavours to be too strong so that they drown out the natural sweetness of the kabocha either.
Here are a couple recipes to refer to, that also have some additional information that might be of interest.
The Aimless Cook
Note: To make this a vegetarian dish, just use konbu (seaweed) dashi instead of the usual fish stock dashi. It's also possible to make it without dashi, just using water.
Besides having it as a side-dish for dinner, H likes to have some in his bento that he takes to work. He used to always eat at the company cafeteria but he got tired of it and since January, as a kind of New Year's resolution, he has been making a bento for himself almost every day. This is a bento he had last week.
He likes a lot of rice (it is the Japanese staple food after all) so the top layer in the photo is rice with salted seaweed spread on top. The second layer contains, from left to right, green beans with ground toasted sesame seeds, spring rolls, the simmered kabocha, and a little more rice with ume (sour plum) and shiso furikake. He often buys miso soup and perhaps a small salad at the canteen to go with it.
As well as my own entry for this month's Hello Japan! mini-challenge, this is also my first contribution to Weekend Cooking, hosted by Beth Fish Reads who says:
Weekend Cooking is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share: Book (novel, nonfiction) reviews, cookbook reviews, movie reviews, recipes, random thoughts, gadgets, fabulous quotations, photographs. If your post is even vaguely foodie, feel free to grab the button and link up anytime over the weekend. For more information, see the welcome post.
I hope to join in Weekend Cooking quite regularly and share more Japanese food with you, either that I've made or that we've eaten out. Let me know if you have any specific requests of Japanese foods you'd like to see or know more about, and I'll see what I can do. And if you make the simmered pumpkin, let me know how it turns out.