Kabocha squash or Japanese pumpkin was introduced from Cambodia to Japan by Portuguese sailors in the 1500’s. Japanese called it kabocha or bobora (from the name Cambodia abobora—the term used by the Portuguese). It has a hard, dull, dark green skin and a bright yellow-orange flesh--- very similar to butternut squash but kabocha tastes nuttier and has an exceptional sweetness to it, almost like pumpkin and sweet potato combined. It is delicious steamed, roasted or simmered with soy sauce. But the best way I love kabocha squash is in a stew. When I was growing up, my mom used to make a fish stew with coconut milk and kabocha. It was the best comfort food for me!
Now I make a Kabocha Coconut Stew for my family. I add ginger, garlic, bird’s eye chili, green onions to it and cook the squash till tender and just a tad mushy. It’s funny, my son eats it the same way I did as a kid --- mashing the kabocha into the coconut milk and mixing it with rice. It is very simple fare -- sweet-savory and spicy hot and deliciously comforting!
When I saw kabocha squash at the Vietnamese store, I decided to make Kabocha Coconut Stew for Weekend Wokking: Ginger to be held on August 30, 2009. I think this dish showcases the delicate flavor of both ginger and kabocha squash -- without ginger, this comfort food is just one-dimensional! If you have a recipe using ginger, please join us for this blogging event.
Here's the recipe for Kabocha Coconut Stew:
1-1/2 cup kabocha squash, cut up
2 tsp minced fresh ginger
2 tsp minced garlic
2 tsp minced green onions
1 Tbsp canola oil
1 tsp chicken powder
1 tsp fish sauce
1-1/2 cup coconut milk
1-2 bird's eye chili (chopped or whole depends on how hot you want it to be)
a sprig of Thai basil
Saute ginger, garlic, green onions till aromatic. Add kabocha squash, chicken powder, fish sauce, coconut milk and bird's eye chili. Cook the kabocha over medium heat till the squash is fork tender. Adjust seasoning (more chicken powder or fish sauce) to your liking. Serve with Thai basil leaves.