Soy Sauce-Simmered Kabocha

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Cut the squash for this four-ingredient side and you’re more than halfway there.
soy sauce-simmered kabocha: pot of soy sauce-simmered kabocha squash on a linen
Jeni Afuso/Make It Japanese

Squash season is far from over, and we plan on making the most of every last second. First on our to-devour list? This beyond simple soy sauce-simmered kabocha from Rie McClenny and Sanaë Lemoine’s new cookbook, Make It Japanese.

You may be a butternut diehard, but this four-ingredient recipe may convert you. “[Kabocha] is sweet and less watery compared to other squashes or pumpkins,” write the authors. “I love the dense, velvety texture of its flesh, and although the skin looks tough, it’s entirely edible.”

It’s simmered nimono style, a Japanese technique that’s essentially a gentle braise. “If you boil the kabocha, it’ll disintegrate around the edges, so I like to use a parchment cartouche to help maintain the shape of the kabocha and enhance its natural sweetness,” advises the author. As for the leftovers, fry them into fritters, add them to soups or even purée them to create a dip or spread.

Reprinted with permission from Make It Japanese by Rie McClenny, with Sanaë Lemoine, copyright © 2023. Published by Clarkson Potter, a division of Penguin Random House, LLC. Photographs by Jeni Afuso.


1½ pounds kabocha squash (about ½ kabocha)

1 tablespoon sugar

1 tablespoon soy sauce

¼ teaspoon kosher salt


1. Remove the seeds from the kabocha half. Cut the squash into quarters through the stem, then cut each quarter in half crosswise. If there are any gnarly bumps on the skin, remove them with a sharp knife.

2. Prepare a cartouche the size of a deep medium skillet or shallow pot. In the skillet or pot, combine the kabocha and 1½ cups water. Bring them to a simmer over medium heat, using a spoon or mesh skimmer to skim off any impurities that rise to the surface. Add the sugar and simmer, stirring, until dissolved, about 2 minutes. Add the soy sauce and salt and stir to combine. Reduce the heat to medium low, place the parchment cartouche on top and cook until the liquid is almost entirely absorbed and the kabocha is soft enough to be pierced with a toothpick or fork, about 15 minutes.

3. Serve warm. The kabocha and braising liquid will keep in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to three days.

Nutrition Facts
  • 72 calories

  • 0g fat

  • 18g carbs

  • 2g protein

  • 7g sugars

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Note: The information shown is Edamam's estimate based on available ingredients and preparation. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist's advice.

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