Confession time: I had no idea what a kabocha squash was until I started reading HLB blogs. I probably had eaten one in a curry at some point and never realized it.
I forgot how much I loved winter squash until this past year. I’ve always been a fan of summer squash – but winter squash? They were shaped funny and how the hell are you supposed to cut one open? Then everywhere I looked there was a kabocha squash recipe – kabocha donuts, kabocha soup, kabocha pancakes, roasted kabocha. I couldn’t escape it so I had to find one to see what the buzz was about.
I finally found one little kabocha at Whole Foods in September. My first attempt at roasting it turned into me nearly slicing my hand off trying to cut it open – then drizzling it with agave and cinnamon. I started picking at it straight from the oven – and I was hooked.
Then, in true Pittsburgh form, kabocha was no where to be found. Angela and I even went to City Market in Columbus trying to find them from the farmers, but no luck. I even Googled “where to buy kabocha squash in Pittsburgh” – nothing. If you know me, you know I don’t give up that easily.
Finally, after four or five different desperate Google searches, a Yelp review popped up of a Japanese market in Squirrel Hill. “Only place to find kabocha squash, or Japanese squash” some helpful Yelp-er told me. That person is a saint. If I knew where they lived, I would send them an Edible Arrangement*.
I didn’t go to this particular market right away. I was afraid of being disappointed. One day, my friend Jamie followed me to the mall, and I noticed an “Oriental Market” in the North Hills. I immediately turned and was the only white girl in there. No one knew what I was doing. I did, though. I headed straight to the produce section, and low and behold, sweet, sweet kabochas, I snagged two huges ones and gifted one to Angela since she had never experienced the delight it had to offer.
Then a few months passed (okay, maybe a month) and I didn’t head back out that way. I suddenly decided to stop by the Japanese market in the aforementioned Yelp review. They had one little kabocha. I asked the shopkeeper if he had more. “How many do you want?” I told him all that he had. He brought me out a box of four kabocha squashes.
If there’s a run on kabocha squashes in Pittsburgh – I know why and I know who reads my blog in Pittsburgh and I’m going to be really pissed if I can’t find one. (Okay, I’ll help you out – the Korean market in Shadyside by the Laundromat also has them.)
Moral of the story: if you can’t find kabocha squash, head to an Asian grocer. They always come through.
How to Roast the Perfect Kabocha Squash
What you’ll need:
Coconut oil, either melted or spray (don’t get on me, I don’t care, it’s from TJ’s and the only ingredient is coconut oil so I’m assuming it’s more or less totally natural)
What to do:
Preheat oven to 425 F.
Wash squash thoroughly because you can, and should, eat the skin.
Put squash in microwave on high for 3 minutes. Let cool for a few minutes.
Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and spray with coconut oil.
Cut squash in half and scoop out the strings and seeds.
Once squash is cleaned out, cut in strips or wedges (I prefer strips).
Line on baking sheet and spray lightly with coconut oil.
Sprinkle cinnamon on squash.
Bake for 40 minutes, turning halfway through. Don’t be lazy – it seriously makes a difference. Kabocha squash is the one place I don’t get lazy.
Chat with me:
What food do you love but you can’t find? Do you love kabocha squash? Has anyone ever sent you an Edible Arrangement? (I’ve never gotten one, if anyone would like to send me one please contact me for my info.)
*Edible Arrangements did not sponsor this post, but if they are reading this and would like to send me an Edible Arrangement to review, feel free.