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Hero shot of Simmered Pumpkin in a bowl with a snow pie as garnish.
Simmered Pumpkin (Kabocha no Nimono)
Prep Time
20 mins
Cook Time
15 mins
Total Time
25 mins

Seasoned with combinations of soy sauce, sake and sugar, Simmered Pumpkin is simple to cook and one of the best ways to enjoy the taste of Japanese pumpkin. It is quick to make and great to serve hot or cold.

Recipe Type: Side
Cuisine: Japanese
Keyword: kabocha, kabocha squash recipe, pumpkin, pumpkin recipe, simmered pumpkin
Serves: 4 Servings
Author: Yumiko
Ingredients (tbsp=15ml, cup=250ml)
  • 600g/1.3lb Japanese pumpkin (note 1)
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 250ml/8.5oz konbu dashi (or water)
  • tbsp soy sauce
  • tbsp sake
  1. Remove seeds using a spoon, including stringy tissues. Cut the pumpkin into about 4cm/1½” cubes (note 2).

  2. Peel part of skin of each piece in patches and trim corners of each pumpkin piece (note 3).

  3. Place pumpkin pieces in a shallow pot, skin side down. Make sure that the pumpkin pieces are snuggly fit in the pot without overlapping (note 4).

  4. Sprinkle sugar over the top of the pumpkin pieces evenly and leave for 15 minutes.
  5. Add remaining ingredients to the pot and bring it to a boil over high heat.
  6. Reduce the heat to medium, place a drop lid on (note 5) and cook for 10-15 minutes until the pumpkin is cooked (a skewer can get through).

  7. Turn the heat off and transfer the pumpkin to serving bowls.

Recipe Notes

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. See the step-by-step photo in the post showing how to cut the pumpkin.

3. See the step-by-step photo in the post showing how to remove skin in patches and trim corners, which is a cooking technique called ‘mentori’ (面取り) in Japanese.

4. If the pot is too large, place a small bowl or a cup to fill the space so that the pumpkin sits on the bottom of the pot without extra room to move around.

5. A drop lid is called 'otoshibuta' (落し蓋) in Japanese. It is a round lid that is slightly smaller than the opening of a saucepan. It is traditionally made of wood but I have a stainless-steel lid. It is placed on top of the ingredients in a pot to ensure the heat is evenly distributed, and the ingredients cook faster, and stay in place without breaking apart. It also stops the liquid from evaporating quickly.

If you don’t have a drop lid, you can make one with baking paper or aluminium foil. Cut a square in foil, fold the edges to make it a round shape with the diameter slightly smaller than the pot. Then poke the foil with a knife or a chopstick to make holes in several places.

6. Nutrition information per serving.

serving: 229g calories: 84kcal fat: 0.7g (1%) saturated fat: 0.2g (1%) trans fat: 0g polyunsaturated fat: 0.1g monounsaturated fat: 0.2g cholesterol: 0.6mg (0%) sodium: 427mg (18%) potassium: 626mg (18%) carbohydrates: 17g (6%) dietary fibre: 0.8g (3%) sugar: 10g protein: 3.4g vitamin a: 255% vitamin c: 23% calcium: 2.7% iron: 7.2%