Steamed Baby Pumpkin And (Jalapeno) Rice

Previously, on tastingmenu.wordpress.com –

… I don’t expect you to follow the recipes to the letter. I’d be happier just knowing they gave you new ideas and brighten up your day-to-day cooking.    (Nobu’s Vegetarian Cookbook, p.9)      -Nobu Matsuhisa

My wife bought a mini kabocha pumpkin. I needed to do a Tuesday night dinner; what to do with the

It isn't halloween yet!

It isn’t halloween yet!

pumpkin?  So the dinner idea  I came up with was:

Salt Grilled (Shioyaki) Mackerel With Momiji Oroshi And Ponzu
Steamed Kabocha Pumpkin With Rice (there was already cooked rice in the rice cooker!)

Saba (Mackerel) Shioyaki with momiji oroshi and ponzu is pretty straightforward Japanese cuisine. The effort here was to quickly do something tasty with the kabocha.  Nobu’s Vegetarian Cookbook (p. 28) suggested

A kabocha pumpkin opened

A kabocha pumpkin opened

splitting open the kabocha, scooping out the fibrous pith and seeds then steaming it or about 10 minutes (in

Kabocha halves ready for the steamer

Kabocha halves ready for the steamer

this case I chose to steam it for about 15).  The it’s just a matter of getting it out of the steamer, discarding the liquid in the hollow of the pumpkin halves and stuffing it with rice. I didn’t have glutinous rice on hand but Matsuhisa-sama said to feel free to use only sushi rice if you don’t have the glutinous rice.  Well, that would amount to about 5  5/12 oz of dry rice (nearly a full Japanese rice cup!)  to begin the cooking process.

Matsuhisa-sama talks about eating the cooked pumpkin interior together with the jalapeno rice.  Basically the jalapeno rice (from the recipe in the book) is rice with a green and a red jalapeno (seeded and cut very thinly) which is then steamed together. I imagine I could do that in a rice cooker.  Matsuhisa-sama talks about putting the rice/jalapeno mixture into a cheesecloth lined colander and then putting the whole thing in a steamer pot to cook on high for 20-30 minutes.

I popped the pumpkin halves into the steamer for about 15 minutes to make sure the interior was nice and soft. In the meantime, I grated some daikon to get about 2 tablespoons of grated daikon (“oroshi”) and mixed it with 2 teaspoons of chili garlic paste/sauce (momiji oroshi).  Once I got that done, I salt sprinkled the mackerel and put it on the top rack of my countertop oven to broil for about 8 minutes. WHile all that was cooking I mixed up a 1:2:4 part mix of yuzu juice, soy sauce and rice vinegar for the ponzu.

Onto a plate, I put the mackerel and a tablespoon of the momiji oroshi and a dipping sauce cup of the ponzu.

Steamed kabocha, ready to be finished

Steamed kabocha, ready to be finished

I got each pumpkin half out of the steamer and into a bowl and put about a bowl of rice into each hollow and

Steamed Kabocha With Rice And Dried Miso ready for serving

Steamed Kabocha With Rice And Dried Miso ready for serving

sprinkled each with a 1 3-fingered pinch of maldon salt and topped it with 1/2 teaspoon of dried red miso.

Kabocha close up

Kabocha close up

While all that was going. on, my wife volunteered to make garlic sauteed spinach to accompany the meal.

Salt grilled mackerel and Kabocha rice

Salt grilled mackerel and Kabocha rice

As we sat down to enjoy the meal, my wife was a little skeptical on how the kabocha was going to taste.  Boy was she surprised.  She commented how the kabocha dish exceeded her expectations.   Perhaps next time, I’ll make the jalapeno rice to for the steamed kabocha.

Dinner is served

Dinner is served

All in all, this kabocha recipe was a wonderful surprise.  Nice flavors and little fuss in preparing it.  It was very much a nice contrast to the mackerel entree.  Thank you Matsuhisa-sama for sharing this recipe!

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