A Japanese variety of winter squash, this squat, medium-sized squash has a rough, dark-green skin that's sometimes mottled with orange or faint white stripes. Its starchy yellow-orange flesh has a pleasant, sweet potato-like flavor and holds its shape when cooked in liquid, which makes it a great choice for adding stews and braises. (Try adding peeled, diced kabocha squash to a coconut-milk-based Thai curry or a vegetarian chili.) Its flavor marries well with Asian ingredients like soy sauce, ginger, and sesame oil.
1 medium squash = 7 to 8 cups large dice
You can try substituting butternut squash or even sweet potato.
Choose kabochas that are heavy for their size with a matte (not glossy) skin. Their rind should be hard, deep-colored and free of blemishes or moldy spots. Tender skin indicates immaturity or poor quality.
To peel kabocha, cut the squash into pieces first. Start with the tip of your knife in the center of the squash and cut through half of it. (If the knife sticks, don't try to pull it out since it may come out suddenly. Instead, tap the handle with a rubber mallet or meat tenderizer until the knife cuts through the squash.) Rotate the squash and cut through the other half the same way. Push the halves apart with your hands. Scoop out the seeds. Cut the halves into wedges and then, using a sharp knife, cut along the rind to free the flesh. Kabocha may also be cooked whole or split lengthwise (removing seeds). Pierce whole squash in several places, rub flesh with olive oil, season with salt and pepper and bake hollow side up, until flesh is very tender. The skin is edible and nutritious but peels away easily after cooking, if that's what is preferred.
Store them in a cool, dry place for up to a month; its flavor will only deepen Wrap cut pieces in plastic and refrigerate up to five days.