Japanese pumpkin, winter squash. (Cucurbita moschata). かぼちゃ、南瓜。
Japanese pumpkin is smaller and sweeter than the Western variety. It has a thick, dark green skin and bright, deep orange flesh. After cooking, the flesh becomes sweet and creamy.
Cut in small pieces and simmered in dashi, sugar and soy sauce, it is one of the most popular home-style dishes of Japan. The skin becomes soft enough to eat. Cut in slices, it is delicious as tempura. It can also be steamed or served as aemono.
Kabocha (if uncut) can be stored for a long time and was therefore an important source of vitamins in the winter months in the past. Nowadays, it is available year-round, but best in autumn.
[Simmered pumpkin (kabocha). Photo Ad Blankestijn]