I love carbs, especially starch. I’m fairly certain that if I ever went on the Atkins diet I’d probably die. While I crave protein every once in a while, I always crave carbs. I love them in all forms: breads, pastas, rices and especially starchy potatoes and squashes. And creamy, smooth kabocha is my favorite sweetly starchy winter squash. Fans of butternut squash may jump ship to the SS Kabocha cuz the luscious flesh of this gem is so buttery smooth that there’s no graininess at all. While the skin is technically edible and a great source of fiber, I tend to remove most of it cuz it’s a bit too fibrous (and if you have a pooch, you can microwave the peeled skin for a healthy fiber-filled treat) but to each his own. かぼちゃの煮物 kabocha no nimono is a common preparation of this lovely Japanese squash that involves simmering it in dashi broth cuz the flavors go so well together. The savory umami goodness of the dashi broth and soy sauce enhances the sweetness of the kabocha making it a delight for your happy taste buds. I like to serve it with soba noodles cuz I find that the chewiness of the soba give a nice textural contrast to the creamy squash as well as creating an opportunity to slurp up all that delicious broth. Adding a little dash of 七味唐辛子 shichimi togarashi, (Japanese seven spice pepper made with chili pepper, orange peel, black sesame seeds, white sesame seeds, sansho pepper–a Japanese variety of Sichuan pepper, ginger, and seaweed) gives it a nice bite.
And just in case you think that creamy orangey flesh is just a pretty face, it packs a punch of vitamins and flavor with a minimum of calories. 1 c of kabocha contains 70% of the RDA vitamin A, 15% of vitamin C, 3% of iron, 7 g of carbohydrates, 1g of fiber, and a mere 30 calories. So feel free to snarfle up this delicious, healthy dish with lots-o-flavor, deficient calories, and no guilt. In fact, this dish is a yummy oxymoron with hearty starchy squash, a light savory broth, and chewy soba noodles and ~265 calories per serving. Oh, and soba contains lots of amino acids (all the essential amino acids as well as lysine) meaning they’re not a bad source of protein either (1 c gives you 5.8 g).
The dish is tip-less. It’s that painless 🙂
2 c dashi stock (I prefer konbu seaweed kelp dashi)
1 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp mirin
1 tsp light brown sugar
1/2 of a ~2 lb kabocha squash, peeled and cut into 1 1/2 inch cubes ~2 c squash
4 oz soba noodles **if cooking gluten-free, look for soba noodles made only with buckwheat flour, many soba brands also contain wheat flour
Shichimi togarashi, optional (I use S&B brand)
Stir together dashi stock, soy sauce, mirin, and brown sugar in a large ~2-3 quart pot. Add squash so that it is mostly covered by the liquid. Cover and simmer over med-lo heat till the squash is easily pierced with a fork but not falling apart, ~7-10 minutes. I periodically flip the squash over so all sides get to simmer in the broth and soak up flavor.
While squash is stewing, boil water in a large pot ~2-3 quarts. Cook soba till tender but still slightly chewy ~5-7 minutes. Drain in a colander, rinse with cold water to stop it from cooking further and set aside (soba are not really sticky so won’t glom together if left in the colander).
Serve squash and some broth (I like to use ~1/2 c broth and 1 c squash per bowl) over soba noodles. Makes 2 servings.