kabocha squash, and tonight’s dinner . . .
Have you ever cooked a kabocha squash? Maybe not. They’re not all that commonly found in the grocery store. You’ll come across it in Asian markets and also health food stores. Its origin is Japanese and it’s not altogether evident when you bring home this compact squash what to do with it exactly. It has a hard texture to the dark green striated skin. I’ve had it before in Japanese restaurants and it tastes like a squash but its flesh tastes more like a hearty sweet potato.
Mine has been sitting on the kitchen counter for a few days, reminding me that I wanted to roast it to go with a meal. Yesterday, we had a cabbage moo-shi filling leftover meal, using the homemade wrappers that I made on Saturday to go with the roast duck I picked up from the Vietnamese market in town. For supper tonight, I’m heating up leftover brown rice, stirring it together with some scallions, eggs and the leftover moo-shi vegetables with a dollop of oyster sauce for flavor.
Alongside, there will be a bowl of gently steamed eggs, the heat so low that the custard of the eggs is smooth as silk. A little higher heat and the steamed eggs go to pot, that is, they puff up, filled with air and the silky texture is lost forever. Lest this sound too dramatic for food, here’s the recipe for the steamed eggs:
Luscious Chinese Steamed Eggs:
1. Mix a half cup of fresh ground pork with chopped scallions, a spoonful of cooking sherry, Ohsawa soy sauce and cook quickly in a small saute pan until the meat is tender and still a little pink. Let cool.
2. Break four fresh organic eggs into a bowl and beat gently with a whisk until well combined. Pour a cup of chicken broth and mix well with the beaten eggs.
3. Prepare a bowl to hold the eggs by spraying with Pam; place cooled pork into the bottom of the bowl and then pour egg/broth mixture gently on top. Add tablespoon of Ohsawa organic soy sauce and a tablespoon of cooking sherry. Stir well.
4. Place the bowl in a pan with an inch or two of water and then place the bowl into the pan to steam. Bring the water to a boil and then turn down heat until the water barely simmers. Put a lid on the pan and maintain the heat just below boiling. Putting the lid on raises the heat inside the pot so double-check the heat which should probably be turned down even more. With the water barely simmering, It may not look like the dish will cook, but if you let it simmer on very low heat for about twenty minutes, the egg mixture will present a custard-like appearance with a silky sheen on the surface.
5. When the custard has set, turn the heat off and either serve with the pot on a trivet or remove the bowl from the pan.
Baked Kabocha Squash:
1. Using a very sharp knife, insert it into the squash and cut lengthwise down one edge. Turn the squash over and cut through the other.
2. Scrape the inside of the squash clean (seeds, etc.)
3. For two people, slice half of the squash into segments. Line a cookie sheet with aluminum foil. Make a mixture of olive oil, soy sauce and maple syrup (equal parts, about a half cup of glaze.)
4. Stir glaze together until mixed and baste the squash segments all over. Heat oven to 400 degrees. Bake the squash for twenty minutes and then turn the pieces over. Baste on more glaze. When squash is cooked after about twenty more minutes, remove from the oven and let cool.
5. Place the cooked squash pieces into a nice pottery dish, cover and wait for dinner.