Nov 9
Simmered Kabocha Squash

Simmered kabocha squash (known as “kabocha nimono” in Japan) is a perfect autumn side dish and super easy to make!  I recently had dinner at a Japanese restaurant with my friend Bee and our friend Brian and his family who were in town on vacation.  One of the dishes I picked for us to eat was kabocha nimono.  Bee had never had it before, and so I was delighted when she loved it.  (Isn’t it the worst when you think someone will like something and then they don’t? Ack!)  Now I’m going to pass on the love to you, because you don’t have to go to a Japanese restaurant to enjoy simmered kabocha.  It is so easy and inexpensive to make at home.  Plus, it makes fabulous leftovers—I put some in Squirrel’s lunch the next day.

Kabocha Squash

Kabocha squash (pronounced “kah-bow-cha”) is a Japanese winter squash, and one of my all-time favorite foods.  When simmered, as in this dish, the skin becomes tender enough to eat, so removing it is unecessary.  How awesome is that? One less step for you to worry about. You’re welcome.

Kabocha steeping in cooking liquid

Nimono (simmered food) is a major category of Japanese cooking.  Almost every meal in Japan will include some sort of nimono.  Kabocha nimono is a classic favorite, partially because it’s so easy, but also because it’s delicious.  The sweet creamy flesh of the kabocha is enhanced by the liquid its cooked in.  This dish would make a fun new addition to a Thanksgiving meal!

Kabocha Nimono

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Simmered Kabocha Squash (Kabocha Nimono)

Makes 4 servings

Recipe from

1/2 kabocha squash (about 1 pound)
2 cups dashi
2 tablespoons mirin
1 small piece kombu (about 2-inches square)
2 teaspoons light colored soy sauce (usukuchi soy sauce) (or regular soy sauce if usukuchi isn’t available)

1. Wash the kabocha well, then scoop out the seeds. Cut the squash into 2-inch chunks (try to keep all of the pieces roughly the same size so that they will cook at the same speed). Put the kabocha in a large saucepan (10-inches in diameter should work perfectly), skin side down. Add the dashi, mirin, and kombu.

2. Bring the liquid to a boil over medium heat. When the liquid boils, cover the saucepan tightly and reduce the heat to low so the kabocha can gently simmer. Cook until the kabocha is tender. A bamboo skewer should pierce it easily. But do not overcook the kabocha, or it will become mushy.

3. When tender, turn off the heat and drizzle in the soy sauce. Cover the pot and let the kabocha steep in the cooking liquid for at least 30 minutes so that the flavors meld and enhance each other. Serve at room temperature, or chilled, with a bit of the cooking liquid spooned over the squash.

{ 13 comments… read them below or add one }

Alayna @ Thyme Bombe November 9, 2011 at 10:05 am

Mmmm, one of my favorites as well. Love that teeny tiny donabe too!


Kristin November 9, 2011 at 10:47 am

Kabocha is the stuff of my childhood. Sadly now that I’ve flown from the nest, I haven’t made kabocha even once, although I love it so. I’ll pin this so I’ll remember to try to make it – comfort food for a rainy San Francisco day in the future!


Kiran @ November 9, 2011 at 11:10 am

I’ve never had kabocha before. But that looks so drool-worthy :)


Abigail (aka Mamatouille) November 9, 2011 at 11:18 am

Oooh, so yummy. I love kabocha! I’ve made it similar to this with ground sesame sprinkled on top, too.


brandi November 9, 2011 at 11:34 am

I LOVE kabocha, but I’ve always just roasted it. I’ll have to try it simmered like this!


Amy Tong November 9, 2011 at 6:52 pm

This looks wonderful. I don’t think I’ve ever cook this squash before and I’m sure my kids would love this dish. Thanks for sharing.


[email protected] November 9, 2011 at 7:33 pm

Kabocha is one of my all time favorite foods too! I simmer it in coconut milk when I’m making curry… Yummm :)


Mallory November 10, 2011 at 12:29 am

Kabocha squash is one of my favorite foods too! I learned to cook this dish a different way from a wonderful Japanese lady. All she did was chunk up the squash, toss it in a couple tablespoons of honey and tamari, and let it sit for an hour or so. The amount of liquid the squash releases is incredible and that’s what you simmer it in! The honey sort of caramelizes into a glaze and it is fantastic!

And I have to know where you got that adorable covered bowl–I collect bowls and want to find one like that!


Bee | Rasa Malaysia November 10, 2011 at 2:41 pm

Ooooh, I am so going to make this. Thanks for sharing the recipe!


Rachel November 11, 2011 at 2:59 pm

Kabocha is one of my favorite winter squashes too. I’ve never had it cooked this way! This might be just right for my Thanksgiving table and/or as many dinners as I can possibly serve kabocha squash this fall and winter!


lynn @ the actor's diet November 17, 2011 at 5:52 pm

kabocha is my favorite – i just can’t cut it!!!


Erina November 18, 2011 at 6:30 pm

Woo! I love Kabocha no nimono!! My mom used to cook it quite often. I like it cold too!


Lizzy February 28, 2012 at 8:48 pm

Thank you for posting this recipe! It is literally one of my top two favorite foods of all-time and I never thought I’d know how to make it. The 30 minute soak is key!!

Do you ever use instant dashi? It seems the stuff of genius but I haven’t totally figured out how much to use and I’ve ready you’re never ever supposed to boil dashi. Woops! Would love your two cents on instant dashi if you ever use it. Thanks again!


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