NIMONO: The Best Way to Cook Kabocha


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The nimono, or simmering, technique is by far my favorite way to cook kabocha squash. It also happens to be the fastest and easiest way. That’s a win-win situation, if I’ve ever seen one.

Let’s start with the basics:


  • Japanese pumpkin
  • Pretty heavy (2-3 lbs)
  • Green/orange
  • Tastes richer and sweeter than most other squash
  • Rich in beta carotene (good for the skin/hair!), iron, vitamin C, and potassium.
  • THE BEST SQUASH (and maybe vegetable) EVER


  • Japanese cooking technique
  • Involves simmering ingredients (veggies, tofu, meat) in stock (mix of sugar, sake mirin, soy sauce, and dashi) until the liquid is completely absorbed

I need to start by saying I am lazy and this is not an authentic nimono recipe. Authentic nimono includes sugar, sake, mirin, soy sauce, and dashi, as stated above. However, I don’t have all of those ingredients on hand (and don’t eat dashi, which is traditionally made with fish), so I use my own different, but similar, ingredients. Feel free to do the same with whatever you have in your pantry.

Prep time: 5 minutes

Cook time: 20 minutes

Total time: 25 minutes


  • 1/2 to 3/4 of a kabocha (depending on the size)
  • For the stock:
    • 3 tbsp soy sauce
    • 1 tsp sweetener (I use agave)
    • 2 tbsp rice vinegar
    • 1 tsp hot pepper flakes (I use gochugaru)
    • 1 tbsp miso paste
  • Water (or veggie stock)


  • Cut the kabocha in half. Scoop the seeds out with a spoon.
  • Cut the kabocha into 3″ square pieces.
  • In a bowl, mix the rest of the ingredients except for the water. 
  • Place the kabocha pieces into a pot
  • Pour the stock mixture into the pot
  • Pour enough water (or veggie stock) so that the kabocha slices are covered.
  • Turn on your stove to high heat, and bring the stock to a boil.
  • Once boiling, turn down the heat to low and cover the pot.
  • Let it simmer until the liquid is completely absorbed. It should take around 20 minutes.
Almost done soaking up all the juice!
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The finished product
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Top it on salads, add it in soups, or have it as a side!


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