If I had to choose four signature Japanese staples, without a doubt it would be tsuyu, Kewpie mayo, kabocha squash, and bonito flakes. And trust me, you do not know kabocha until you've had this uber simple, uber delicious umami bomb. Technically the recipe serves 2-3, but usually by the time it reaches the table there's only enough left for one. In regards to the kabocha, choose one that is light for its size then age it by letting it sit in a cupboard for at least 3 weeks. This dehydrates it and intensifies its flavour in addition to giving it a firmer flesh. —Coco et Cocoa
small kabocha squash, seeded and cut into 1-inch wedges
sweet mayonnaise (Kewpie, if you have it)
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
Whisk together the tsuyu and mayonnaise until well combined. Dip the kabocha wedges into the tsuyu mixture to coat on both sides, allowing the excess to drip off and reserve the remaining mixture. Place the coated wedges on the lined baking sheet.
Bake for 20 minutes, brush with some of the remaining tsuyu mixture and continue baking at 375 degrees F for another 10 minutes. Brush again and bake for another 15 minutes, or until bubbly and fully caramelized.
Top with bonito flakes and serve with steamed rice and sliced avocado to round out the meal.
* If you're unsure about tsuyu, "[it] is the delicious soup stock used for most Japanese noodle dishes, hotpots and can even be used as a rich dipping sauce for tempura. Tsuyu has become an increasingly popular condiment in Japan and is made from a blend of dashi soup stock and a mixture of soy sauce, mirin and sugar." (www.japancentre.com)