Tuesday, September 30, 2008
Okay, it's not really a salad.
In Japan, the most commonly available squash in the fall is the kabocha. It tastes a lot like the buttercup squash I grew up eating (Microwaved with brown sugar and butter in the middle where the seeds have been scooped out - try it; you'll like it.), but just a bit sweeter, with a faint marshmallowy taste.I like squash a lot, but the best squash I had in recent memory was an acorn squash dish my friend Canadian Bento made last winter while I was visiting her. She roasted it in the oven for a while, and then mashed it up with a secret ingredient - vanilla. She didn't tell us what was in it before she made it, but when I tried it and insisted on knowing what made it so incredible, she revealed the secret - which she's gotten at a Las Vegas buffet, of all places. Which I hear are pretty great these days.
Well, there isn't any acorn squash to be had around my parts, so I picked up an kabocha the other weekend, knowing that it would sit happily in my crisper until later in the week when it could be dealt with. Thursday night, I made shoga yaki - fried ginger pork on rice - so I knew we'd want some sort of creamy side dish to complement the sharp taste of the ginger. Out came the kabocha. I'd been thinking of it all week - I wanted to find a way to balance out the overly sweet taste of it. I chopped it up into cubes, peeled them, and stuck the lot in the microwave in a bowl covered in plastic wrap. Five minutes later, it was ready to be mashed, with a few secret ingredients of my own.
Erin's Kabocha Salad:
(You can use buttercup squash, if you like)
1/4 sweet squash, like kabocha or buttercup, peeled and cubed
1 tablespoon miso
1 tablespoon butter
2 tablespoons fresh parmesan cheese, grated
Fresh ground black pepper
Microwave the cubes in a covered bowl for about five minutes. When they're soft, mash it together with the miso, butter, parmesan cheese, and pepper. Scoop onto a plate, and garnish with more cheese, if you like. You won't taste the miso so much, but the salty flavour will help balance the sweetness. Miso keeps happily in the fridge for a long time, and adds a really nice depth of flavour to savoury dishes like soups - I recommend keeping a small tub on hand.