Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Savoring the Squash Harvest

Before we left for our trip to Hakuba, I harvested a few of our coveted squash. Both varieties turned out fairly well, although I do suspect I left them on the vine a tad too long. Most photos of the final product feature a dark green or grey fruit while mine are orange in hue. The advice I got was to wait until the stems turned gray. (I was a bit impatient, so even this orange beauty here was picked perhaps too early for that particular indicator.)

Reminiscent of the butternut, also a cucurbits moschata, the skin on these does not cook up as nicely as it does on the average kaboucha or buttercup. Our curry the other night was tasty except for the skin, so in the dish below I peeled the leftover half before cooking. A tedious task that I attempt to avoid at almost all costs it proved worth the effort in the end.

While it's still a bit hot for miso I decided that after nearly ten days of eating out a simple home-cooked meal was in order. A big salad, rice, and miso filled the bill nicely. As it did in the houtou udon the squash added a bit of texture as well as flavor to the miso, and the sweet-spicy Korean chili paste I mixed in for good measure was the perfect companion. (I may try the Niseko Station Inspired Squash Salad, too, for good measure when our next set of guests arrive.)

Spicy Squash Miso Soup
1/2 squash, peeled and cut into bite size pieces.
4 heaping tablespoons, miso
4 cups water
1/2 cup dashi or soy sauce
1/2 block of tofu, cut into bite size pieces
1 tablespoon Korean chili paste
1 1/2 inches fresh ginger, thinly cut

Start heating the water and gradually smooth in the miso paste. Then toss in the squash, tofu, and ginger slices. Stir in the Korean chili paste. Bring it to a boil, then softly simmer until the squash cuts smoothly with a knife. Serve piping hot in small bowls!

I recommend experimenting with leaving the peel on the squash. When tempura-ed in Japan, the peel is on and folks I've met in Michigan eat baked squash with the peel on, too. My hunch is that all that green skin can't be bad for you, unless it turns you off. Then peel it.

The amount of tofu used is relative, of course, if you ask me. We like a goodly amount, but others may prefer less. Bite size is also relative. My favorite spouse prefers smaller bites while I don't mind double bite-size chunks.

We like spicy food, and the Korean chili paste we get here is a wee bit sweet, too. If you're using anything else, start sparingly and ramp it up as you go.


~fer said...

Very nice! That squash looks great
I'm sure it taste as good as it looks

good to have you back, hope you had fun at your trips.

Joan Lambert Bailey said...

Many thanks for the welcome! The squash is delicious, and I'm trying to sort out a good recipe for squash butter, too. We have a new round of friends visiting, so my posts are going to fall off again, I think. There's so much to write about, and so much to do! It's wonderful, really.