Sunday, February 01, 2009

Sautéed Kabocha Squash: Delicate with a little cream

I'm only now coming to appreciate kabocha squash. Previously I perceived it just as a less sweet, starchier, and harder-to-peel substitute for butternut, my favorite. If not fully ripened and cured, the squash can be bland. But then, so can butternut. What I'm beginning to recognize is that kabocha has a delicacy of flavor that butternut does not. And as much as I enjoy butternut, I may be overdosing on it after the winter cooking.

Kabocha is the Japanese "pumpkin," introduced to that country in the 16th century by Portugese sailors. All pumpkins and squashes originated in the Americas. Grown extensively in California and Mexico, most kabocha are shipped to Japan, where, among its other uses it is common in vegetable tempura.

The recipe I'm showing emerged from an effort to make a winter squash dish for my granddaughter Isabella, who will be coming to visit tomorrow. She adores squash, and requested it (along with meatballs and broccoli). The dish was designed as a contrast to the meatballs and spaghetti with red sauce. The sweetness of the squash seems to need a little tartness to heighten the flavor, which is why I finish the dish with a little vinegar or lemon juice. The squash can be dusted with grated Romano or Parmesan, along with the spaghetti and meatballs.

Since this is a side dish, I am not suggesting wines to pair with it. The recipe serves six as a side.

Sautéed Kabocha Squash with White Wine and Cream

1 medium kabocha squash (1-1/2 to 1-3/4 pounds)
2 tablespoons canola oil
1 tablespoon butter
2-inch sprig fresh rosemary
Large sprinkle of black pepper
Small pinch of grated nutmeg
1/4 cup white wine
1/2 cup half-and-half cream or 1/4 cup each milk and cream
1/2 teaspoon wine vinegar or lemon juice

Peel and split squash and scoop out seeds. Cut flesh into 3/4-inch cubes. Fry over low heat with oil and butter in large non-stick frying pan. Stir frequently, and cover pan after the first 5 minutes so squash partially steams. Sprinkle with salt several times to season the squash as it cooks. Part way through the cooking, add rosemary, pepper, and nutmeg.

When squash is tender, add wine, stir and cook it down to nearly dry. Add half and half or cream and milk. Stir and fry until it thickens. Stir in the vinegar or lemon juice. Check seasoning, and add salt if necessary. Remove rosemary.


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12:44 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

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2:57 PM  

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