Kabocha Squash: A
Tasty Raw Food Treat
Kabocha squash is
a surprisingly awesome raw food I've come to love.
On a recent trip to Thailand I was served several
salads topped with some unidentified spiralized
vegetable, and was quickly won over.
When I inquired in my abysmal Thai to find out
what it was, I didn't get too far. The Thais
simply call it pumpkin in English, so it took me
awhile to figure out what I was dealing with.
Finally, I tracked it down at a local market.
It turned out to be Japanese kabocha squash,
which is popular throughout much of Asia. The
Thais call it fak thong in their own language, and
serve it in all kinds of dishes. Those who've
heard of kabocha tend to think it's only usable in
cooked meals, but I was surprised to find it had
other uses as well.
Using Kabocha Squash
The best way I've found to use
raw kabocha squash is to spiralize
I've long enjoyed creating raw pastas of various
consistencies using cucumbers,
zucchini, and various other summer squashes,
but using winter squash hadn't occurred to me.
Turns out I've been missing out, because kabocha
seems to incorporate the best of both worlds. I
like the mild taste of cucumber, but find it too
watery; its juice tends to heavily dilute whatever
sauce I put on it.
Zucchini overcomes the dilution problem with its
dryness, and more closely
Kabocha is dry, has a consistency similar to that of
pasta, and has only a mild flavor in its uncooked
state. You could call it vaguely sweet, it digests
well, and it goes well with a variety of salad and
resembles the consistency of pasta, but the taste
could be better.
My favorite thing to do with it is to put a nice raw
tomato sauce on it.
raw dressings can spice up your salad
every night of the week. Don't worry,
they're also low fat and incredibly
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Finding Kabocha Squash
Kabocha may be a bit tough to find outside of Asia,
where it's a staple. In The United States,
California dominates production. Most of the crop is
exported to Japan, but some of it is consumed in the
country, and it's easiest to find on the west coast.
didn't realize what it was at the time, I've seen
Kabocha at several asian markets and China towns in
the US, and they're likely your best bet for if
you're looking to purchase
High-end grocers and health food stores with produce
departments may also stock it.
Another option is to simply grow
it in your garden. Although originally
tropical, it grows well in most temperate climates.
Ripening Your Kabocha
Wondering why some of these squashes are sweet and
bright orange while others are pale yellow and have
virtually no flavor? I recently asked a farmer and
got some good advice from him:
"When kabocha is harvested, it's still growing and
ripening, so buying fresh kabocha with the idea of
eating it soon is probably a bad idea. You'll need
to mature it first if you want flavor and that nice
deep orange color you're looking for.
First, ripen it in a warm area for 13-15 days.
During this time the starch converts to carbs. You
can eat it then, but it'll be even better if you
then put it in a cool place and store it 1.5 to 3
Learn how kabocha
squash fits into the group of healthy vegetables
you should be eating.
Learn about other squash.
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