Kabocha squash, which also known as Kabocha pumpkin or Japanese pumpkin, is a common squash seen here in Hawaii. It’s also confused a lot with kombucha which is a totally different thing.
Kabocha is shaped like a pumpkin and has the consistency and taste of butternut squash, although it’s a bit sweeter. It is super easy to grow which makes it ideal for the Hawaii gardener. You just need a little space so it can spread.
Our kabocha patch under a mango tree
Although technically considered a fall/winter squash, we grow it year round. This squash is very resistant to bugs, and is a high producer. One of the best things about this kind of squash is its versatility. I’ve put it in stews and curries, made pumpkin soup (which everyone loves, not to brag), and roasted it. When we have a lot of them, we either give them away or cut them up and freeze them. They hold really well in the freezer and make great soup afterwards.
My winning soup recipe is easy. Ready? Cut and skin pumpkin, put in water, boil to start, then simmer till it falls apart and has a creamy texture, add salt and pepper to taste. Yep that’s it. It’s so yummy. The natural sweetness of this squash is so tasty you really need to do little to it.
The hardest thing about kabocha is cutting it. These are tough little squash, so get a big sharp knife. Cut it in half, scoop out the inside, and cut appropriately. For roasting, you can leave the skins on. I cut them in slices, put it in a bag of olive oil and garlic salt, shake it up, and roast them. You can put them on the grill or roast them in the oven, either way it’s great. I roast them until they’re nice and brown and you can easily push a fork through it.
I encourage people to experiment with them. They cream really easily; you can make pie, or cut them up raw and use like carrots in cake. You can also put them in a batter and fry them for a nice tempura. I suggest smaller strips when doing this.
The kabocha is very meaty inside and one pumpkin will yield a lot. Not only is this squash delicious and versatile, but it’s also good for you. It is high in the anti-oxidant beta carotene and Vitamin A. The skin when consumed is a good source of fiber as well.
The leaves of the kabocha are so large they hide the pumpkins well.