With gravy mince poured over the steamed pumpkin, Steamed Pumpkin with Beef Mince Sauce is so filling that you could make it a main dish. Simmered Pumpkin is a popular Japanese side dish among the pumpkin recipes, but today’s dish is also popular.
Instead of boiling the pumpkin, steam it so that the flavours are retained inside of the flesh. A flavoursome dashi-based gravy sauce made with beef mince/ground beef makes this dish a real comfort food.
Steaming is the best for Pumpkin with Beef Mince
Compared to boiling or stir-frying, steaming is considered to be a healthier way to cook food.
When you boil vegetables, nutrients that are water soluble come out of the flesh into boiling water and the vegetables lose the nutrients. But in the case of steaming vegetables, this dose not occur and you get to keep nutrients within the vegetables better.
And of course unlike stir-frying no oil is required to cook.
There are many ways to steam pumpkin:
- A steamer
- A pot/wok with a colander
- A bamboo steamer
- A microwave
- An oven
For today’s dish I tried two cooking methods – using a pot and using a microwave. The recipe instructions use a pot to steam the pumpkin but I added a note about how to cook it in a microwave.
Microwaving is actually faster, but there could be inconsistencies in how well the flesh inside is cooked. To overcome this problem, you either have to turn the pumpkin pieces over or not turn and accept the fact that part of the pumpkin might be a bit too soft.
The flavoured thick sauce with minced meat/ground meat is called ‘soboro-an’ (そぼろあん) in Japanese.
I touched on soboro-an in my post, Braise White Radish with Pork Mince and I am repeating it here. When mince is cooked and flavour is added, it becomes ‘soboro’ (そぼろ). When soboro is cooked in a thick sauce, it becomes soboro-an.
Soboro can be made with eggs as well instead of minced meat. When beaten eggs are cooked in a frying pan and stirred vigorously until they become small pieces it’s called egg soboro. See my Sanshoku Bento (tri-coloured Rice Bowl), which includes two kinds of soboro – egg and meat.
The word ‘an’ (あんor 餡) means three things one of which is thick sauce. The other meanings are (1) sweet bean paste and (2) fillings for dishes such as Gyoza, Shumai, and Japanese sweets, etc.
What’s in Steamed Pumpkin with Beef Mince Sauce
The major ingredients are just pumpkin and beef mince/ground beef. The other ingredients are dashi stock and seasonings to make a thick sauce.
Cut the pumpkin into cubes and steam them. Cook the beef mince with ½ tablespoon of oil, then add dashi stock, soy sauce, mirin, sake, sugar and grated ginger. Cook and reduce the sauce a little bit.
Add a small amount of cornflour/corn starch to thicken the sauce. Pour the mince sauce over the steamed pumpkin and it’s done!
When I cook a dish using beef mince/ground beef, I often end up with a small amount of left-over mince which is not enough for a main dish. Today’s dish is a perfect ground beef recipe to consume such left-over mince. Instead of beef, you can use pork mince or chicken mice too.
Steamed Pumpkin with Beef Mince Sauce is quite filling for a side dish. You could even increase the quantity and make it a main dish too.
Today’s dish is cooked in the time it takes to steam the pumpkin pieces . You can keep it in the fridge for 2-3 days. You can also freeze it for a few weeks but when re-heated, the pumpkin tends to become mushier.
With gravy mince poured over the steamed pumpkin, Steamed Pumpkin with Beef Mince Sauce is so filling that you could make it a main dish. Simmered Pumpkin is a popular Japanese side dish, and today's dish is also popular.
Don't forget to see the section 'MEAL IDEAS' below the recipe card! It gives you a list of dishes that I have already posted and this recipe that can make up a complete meal. I hope it is of help to you.
- 500g/1.1lb pumpkin (note 1)
- ½ tbsp oil
- 150g/5.3oz beef mince/ground beef (note 2)
- 100ml/3.4oz dashi stock
- ½ tsp grated ginger
- 2 tbsp soy sauce
- 2 tbsp mirin
- 1 tbsp sake
- ½ tsp sugar
- ½ tbsp cornflour/corn starch with 1 tbsp water
- Finely julienned ginger (note 3)
Remove seeds from pumpkin using a spoon, including stringy tissue. Cut the pumpkin into about 3cm/1¼"x 4cm/1½” blocks (note 4).
Place the pumpkin pieces on a steamer tray or a metal colander skin side down without overlapping. Then place it over the boiling water. Put a lid on and steam over high heat for 15-20 minutes until pumpkin is cooked through. (note 5)
Transfer pumpkin pieces to serving bowls (I place them with skin side down but it doesn't have to be this way).
Heat the oil in a frying pan over medium heat. Add beef mince to the pan and cook, breaking it up as you go.
Once the beef has changed the colour from red to brown, add the remaining Soboro-an ingredients except cornflour/corn starch with water.
Bring it to a boil and cook for 30 seconds or so. Then add the cornflour/corn starch with water.
Cook until the liquid reduces and the mince sauce becomes the consistency of a gravy sauce.
Pour the mince sauce over the pumpkin, place julienned ginger on top and serve immediately.
1. There are different varieties of Japanese pumpkins. In Australia, Kent pumpkin is often labelled as Japanese Pumpkin and that is what I used today. It is larger in size than the Japanese version and the skin colour is different, but it works well with this recipe. If you can find the Japanese version of Kabocha, it’s even better.
2. It is totally alright to use pork or chicken mince as a substitute for beef mince. You will get quite a different flavour of the sauce. You may also reduce the amount of ginger if not using beef mince.
3. Japanese citrus, yuzu, is often used as a garnish on top of the Soboro-an. But I cannot get fresh yuzu in Sydney so I substituted it with ginger since ginger flavour is added to the sauce. You could also use finely julienned lemon rind as an alternative.
4. See my post, Simmered Pumpkin (Kabocha No Nimono) to see how I cut the pumpkin.
5. The duration of steaming varies depending on the size of the pumpkin, variety of pumpkin and the strength of the heat. If a thin bamboo stick or a fork can get through the pumpkin easily, it is OK.
Instead of steaming the pumpkins on a stove, you could use a microwave to steam. Place pumpkin pieces in a microwave safe container, cover it with cling wrap and cook for 6 minutes or so at 600W. It is faster than steaming in a pot, but the pumpkin tends to cook inconsistently. To prevent this problem, you may want to turn the pumpkin pieces over half way.
6. Nutrition per serving assuming 4 servings.
serving: 246g calories: 182kcal fat: 9.9g (15%) saturated fat: 3.1g (16%) trans fat: 0.5g polyunsaturated fat: 0.6g monounsaturated fat: 4.7g cholesterol: 27mg (9%) sodium: 557mg (23%) potassium: 648mg (19%) carbohydrates: 13g (4%) dietary fibre: 0.7g (3%) sugar: 7.3g protein: 9.7g vitamin a: 213% vitamin c: 9% calcium: 2.9% iron: 10%