Kabocha no Nimono (Simmered Acorn Squash) #SundaySupper

Fall is upon us and with it comes crates full of colorful, abundant squash, changing leaves, cool winds and for some, it marks the beginning of the Pumpkin Spice Latte or just holiday shopping… here at Sunday Supper, we are celebrating with a SQUASH FESTIVAL! So put away those dusty squash recipes and tuck into some new recipes to shake up your tired squash routine!

For me, it means going back to my roots and pulling out an old family favorite! Kabocha no Nimono! This simply means simmered pumpkin, in Japanese and it is a lovely treat! A savory, luscious bite of pumpkin that has been simmered in a sweet broth that has a hint of salty, briny flavor from the soy sauce and dashi – it can be the perfect last bite of a meal or the perfect beginning!

In Japan, it can be found in countless bento boxes and appeared often at my mother and grandmother’s tables for dinner. Although, when we moved to the States, we began using acorn squash – a close relative and the best alternative when Japanese kabocha (pumpkin) as not available. It was more of a treat and less of a vegetable, something really special!

Kabocha no Nimono is a dish that reminds me of the story of Totto-Chan: The Little Girl at the Window, when the headmaster asks Totto-Chan if her bento box (lunch box) had “something from the ocean and something from the hills.”“This combination will ensure a healthy and balanced lunch,” the headmaster of the school tells little Totto-chan;  and that is exactly what I feel this dish offers to a meal, balance! Not to mention, it’s just a tasty treat!! It was fun to prepare this for my girls, and they enjoyed eating it too!


  • 2-3 lb Kabocha or Acorn Squash
  • 3 C Water
  • 1/3 C Dashi Concentrate
  • 2 TBS Sugar
  • 2 TBS Soy Sauce
  • 2 TBS Sake
  • 1 TBS Mirin

Wash the kabocha or acorn squash. Cut it in half then scrape out the seeds and stringy pulp from both halves. Cut the squash into 2-3 inch sections, trying to cut them as uniformly as possible so that they cook evenly. Put the pieces of kabocha or acorn squash skin side down in a wide, shallow saucepan. Add the water so that the water just covers the pieces of kabocha or acorn squash. Add the dashi concentrate.

Bring the saucepan to a boil over medium heat. When it boils, cover the saucepan and reduce the heat to low to gently simmer the kabocha or acorn squash. Cook it until the pieces are just tender and can be easily pierced with a toothpick or bamboo skewer. Remove the lid and strain out most of the liquid until you have just enough to cover the bottom of the pan.

In a small bowl, mix the sugar, soy sauce, sake and mirin together. Drizzle this mixture over the kabocha or acorn squash pieces then swirl the pan to gently mix the soy sauce mixture with the remaining dashi water mixture. Cover and simmer the pieces over low heat until the pieces are completely tender but not mushy. Remove from the heat, turn the pieces over, and let the squash steep in the remaining liquid for at least 30 minutes to enhance the flavor. Serve warm, at room temperature or even chilled.

Don’t forget to check out all these other amazing squash recipes!!

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