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Adjust Servings:
350g Kabocha (Japanese Pumpkin) Approx 1/3-1/2 Depending on Size
400ml Dashi Stock (Instant or Fresh) Kayanoya Brand is our Fave!
30g "Black Sugar" (Okinawa Kokutou) Approx 2 Tbsp - Light Brown Sugar Works too
15ml Mirin Approx 1 Tbsp
15ml Sake (Cooking / Drinking) Approx 1 Tbsp
30ml Soy Sauce (Dark, Regular) Approx 2 Tbsp
10g Grated Ginger (Fresh) Approx 2 Tsp
15g Katakuriko (Potato Starch) Approx 1 Tbsp (Can use Cornstarch)
150g Chicken (Ground / Minced) 1/3/ lb

Nutritional information


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Kabocha no Soboroni <br><small>(かぼちゃのそぼろ煮)</small>

Kabocha no Soboroni

A Hearty Side or Main Course Dish

The absolute easiest simmered Kabocha (Japanese Pumpkin) with Minced Chicken. This is one of those quick weekday sides that embraces traditional nimono techniques.

  • Gluten Free
  • Spicy (Mild)
  • Vegan




A wonderful favorite week-day side dish that is always a hit in our family and is hearty enough that it could easily double-up as a main (served over rice): Kabocha no Soboro-ni (かぼちゃのそぼろ煮).  Breaking it down:

Kabocha = Japanese Pumpkin (there are over 50 varietals)
Soboro = Ground Meat (usually chicken for this dish)
“Ni” = Shorthand way of saying Nimono (stewed foods).

There’s lots of recipes around Japan, but the traditional roots of this dish trace back to the Oita Prefecture in Kyushu where it is said that Kabocha was introduced to Japan in the 16th Century by the Portuguese traders.

The main varietals of Kabocha that we now enjoy year-round here in Japan has come a long way from it’s origin. And depending on where you are in Japan — Kabocha will vary dramatically. So, it’s always worth trying if you are traveling about.

Kabocha has a very unique sweetness that is often described as a cross between squash and a sweet potato, with an added tones of nutty. Very different from your typical pumpkin, but similar to the latin Calabaza Squash which is usually larger (and can be yellow to orange colored on the exterior).

Kabocha is eaten regularly with the skin in tact, and many of the dishes (including this one) actually rely on the skin ‘in tact’ to maintain temperature balance as it stews and softens.



There's lots of preparation methods out there, but I prefer to keep the work and effort to a single pan minimum. So, with a little culinary trickery (and a microwave) we can also get there a little faster and less likely to ninja slice your hand off cutting up the Kabocha...

Start by softening up that kabocha. I take the whole chunk, wash it well on the outside, put it in plastic with a bit of room to breath and microwave on high (600w) for about 3 min.

At that point, it's going to be softer and easy to scoop and dispose of the seeds. Still, if you have a low wattage microwave, it's safe to do another min (600w).

We're just trying to get it soft enough that cutting through isn't a crazy nightmare (but we also aren’t trying to cook it through). Set aside to allow for cooling before cutting.


Next we are going to prepare a slurry. Combine about 100ml of your Dashi Stock (1/4 of it), Mirin, Sake, Soy Sauce, Sugar, and Potato Starch into a large mixing cup (like a 2-cup pyrex) and thoroughly mix so that the sugar and starch have been fully incorporated.

The starch here is going to help thicken the sauce as the Nimono cooks up and reduces.


Meanwhile, in a large skillet pan, add about 1 Tbsp of vegetable oil, and the ground chicken. Fry it up over medium-high heat for about a minute and then add the ginger. Continue frying for another min and then add the slurry…. then continue just until it's changed color and the meat has been fully “coated” with your slurry. Focus on really breaking it up to small little bits - the meat isn’t the star of this show. Once finished, turn off the heat and push all the meat towards the outside of the pan into an even flat ring all the way around. We're gonna make a well in the center for the Kabocha to simmer.


Next up we need to cut the Kabocha down into 3/4”-1” pieces (reasonable bite sizes) but you definitely want to go for even sizing. Not over sized, not tiny sized. Good 3/4”-1” pieces that won’t make you gag because they are just too large. Place the Kabocha into your pan with the skin side down on the pan surface. We are going to rely on the strength of the skin to catch the bulk of the heat while the liquids do their thing and get “wicked” up (partially). See picture for reference just in case I didn’t describe this part well.


It’s at this point that MANY Japanese Chefs will use an Otoshibuta (drop lid). A lot depends on your lid and pan. I’m going to say that you can absolutely use a drop lid as they do tend to help condense you liquid into your food. However, for this recipe.. A good tight fitting lid is what I used. Simply pour in the rest of your dashi (the remaining portion of the 400ml), then fit the pan with the lid and bring the heat to about medium. We want to get the liquid hot, stewing and slightly bubbly (if it’s a glass lid, all the better so you can see through).


At about the 5 minute mark, we want to check for liquid concentration and it’s at this point that I usually adjust my lid so that it’s narrowly off and steam can start to escape/evaporate. Again, some people achieve this the whole way through with an Otoshibuta (and you can even make one out of aluminum foil. But, I’m too lazy and didn’t want to overdo it.


Approaching 8 minutes, I start checking. You want most of your liquid to have evaporated, and are looking to see signs that it has also thickened a bit. The sauce here should be a coating, not a soup — Nor do you want it dry to the bone. If for some reason your pan is going too dry, add another 50-100ml of Dashi. However, if you watch this one, it shouldn’t get there. The real test is the pumpkin. It should be tender and easily cut with the side of your fork. Definitely not “mushy” (then you went too far). Tender. Cut off a piece and give it a quick taste to make sure it’s cooked through (in all… it may go to 10 min, but shouldn’t go very much further).


When ready, turn off the heat and carefully (without damaging your Kabocha), fold everything together. Serve alone or over rice… feel free to garnish with some finely chopped green onions. I have been known to do a number of variations of this side (I’ve used crushed red peppers or a spot of cayenne for some heat), but this is a good Nimono to get you.

Chef Tony

Live from Japan! Chef Tony is a 32+ Year Professional in Culinary & Pastry

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