Kabocha is hiding in plain sight, don't mistake it as a simple pumpkin!

by Taylor Hoang
October 28, 2019

We’re now well into October which means Halloween, candies, cooler weather and of course lots of pumpkins. These fall veggies aren’t eaten a whole lot, especially outside of fall and winter but one of our favorite varieties, popular in Asian cuisine, is called Kabocha and also known as Japanese pumpkin.

Like pumpkins and carrots, kabocha (ka-bol-ja) is packed with beta carotene (vitamin A), iron, and vitamin C. It has a fluffy texture and flavor that come across as a mix between sweet potato and pumpkin. The deep green outer skin is thick and durable but becomes soft when cooked and is fully edible, providing lots of fiber and nutrients. While it’s available year-round, kabocha is in season during late summer and fall.

For basics, kabocha can be used in any recipe that calls for butternut or acorn squash but there are also many ways to enjoy it. Roasted, tempura fried, soup, dessert, and even made into a latte – watch out pumpkin spice lattes!

Where to purchase:  Kabocha squash are sold at many Asian grocery stores around Seattle and are usually located in large cardboard bins sitting atop wooden pallets.  Look for medium sized squash about 12 inches in circumference that has a deep green color skin – yellow bumps are normal. It should feel dense and heavy.

Foulee Market on Beacon Hill

C & T Market in White Center

Dong Hing Market in the International District

Where to taste: Many Asian restaurants serve this unassuming squash as a compliment to their main dish and perhaps you may have tasted it before believing it to be pumpkin as many menus will list it as pumpkin. So if you need an intro on how it’s used in Asian cuisines, these restaurant do great job of incorporating this squash in their menus.

Araya’s Place in the University District
5240 University Way NE Seattle, WA 98105

A family-owned and operated Thai restaurant, providing vegetarian food located on University Way.  Araya host a popular lunch buffet and a full service dinner, Monday thru Sunday. Kabocha Squash is prominently featured in their Pumpkin curry cooked with seitan, soft & fried tofu, bell pepper and basil in red curry.  A definite must try.

Ten Sushi #35
1207 S Jackson St

It shouldn’t be a surprise that a Japanese restaurant serves Japanese squash in their dishes. However, in most Japanese restaurants kabocha squash is not prominently announced on the menu but is rather hidden among the pile of vegetable and shrimp tempuras. At Ten Sushi #35, kabocha squash is thinly sliced with the skin on and dipped in a light batter and deep fried. The crunchy batter gives enough texture to bring out the full nutty and sweet flavor of the squash. Order the vegetable tempura platter which yields a good mix of fried vegetables and plenty of kabocha squash for dipping.