While we love a good butternut or acorn squash, kabocha squash is the definite winter squash go-to whenever it’s available.
What Does Kabocha Squash Taste Like?
In its native Japan, kabocha squash is known as kuri kabocha or chestnut squash, in reference to its chestnut-like flavor and scent. Kabocha is wonderfully sweet (even sweeter than butternut squash) and nutty with a dry, dense texture. It’s almost like a cross between pumpkin and sweet potato with a hint of chestnut.
How to Choose Kabocha Squash
Kabocha squash comes in dark green and bright orange-skinned varieties. Look for kabochas that are heavier than they look with a thick, dull-looking rind (with no mold or rot). A splash of orange color in naturally green-skinned squash is also a good sign.
You can sometimes find kabocha sold as buttercup squash and vice versa. However, though their flavor profile is similar, there’s a noticeable texture difference. So if you’re on the hunt for true kabocha squash, look for a flat circle at the base of the squash (buttercup squash has a button-like protrusion at the bottom).
How to Prepare Kabocha Squash
Unlike other kinds of squash, you don’t need to peel the skin from the kabocha squash. However, they are notoriously difficult to cut.
To save yourself the trouble of hacking and sawing at the tough peel, microwave the squash for a few minutes to soften it. You can also poke a few holes in the squash and roast it whole for a few minutes to a couple of hours, depending on how cooked you need it to be. Afterward, you can slice it and prepare as intended, eat it straight (if it’s been cooked long enough), or roast further for crispy, caramelized edges.
Cooking Kabocha Squash
Kabocha squash is extremely versatile. It can be roasted, braised, simmered in soups and stews, added to stir-fries, and even fried tempura style. Try swapping it into this roast delicata squash, feta and cranberry stuffed acorn squash, or butternut squash harvest bowl. Kabocha’s dense texture and deeply sweet flavor make it a great substitute for most types of squash in any preparation.