Kabocha squash, also known as Japanese pumpkin, is a hard-shelled winter squash, not unlike the more familiar acorn and butternut squashes. I was introduced to this particular variety by way of a pumpkin soup recipe created by chef Eric Ripert as part of his Market Table Dinner Social - and though it was a lot of work to hack apart my squash, the soup was fantastic and completely worth it.
Kabocha (pronounced kah-BOH-cha), is a wonderfully sweet squash (sweeter even than butternut), and has a rather floral aroma when cut. In addition to that, its flesh is almost completely fiberless, resulting in a very tender and succulent cooked squash. In working with it, I found it to be a bit dry, so having supplemental liquid to add to your soup or roast would be wise. Here’s an interesting fact I uncovered in my research: Kabocha squash is immature when harvested, not reaching peak ripeness till 1 ½ to 3 months after harvest. Average size for a kabocha is 2-3 lbs, though they can evidently grow as large as 6-8 lbs. My specimen weighed in at about 3 ½ lbs, and that produced roughly 4-5 cups of diced squash (though it’s important to understand that I’m not a skilled hard squash disassembler, so there’s probably some waste to account for there).