This squash/pumpkin braised in milk—*kabocha no miruku ni*—is a dish that you could imagine in a lunchtime bento box or as a side dish to some grilled salmon or roast pork. It's a great vegetable dish for children, who love things sweet and creamy.
Japanese pumpkin (also known as kabocha squash) is best for this because it's sweet and nutty with a floury consistency that reminds me of eating chestnuts. As it cooks, the edges soften and become incorporated into the creamy "dressing." You could use butternut squash or sweet potato as a substitute, but also think about doing this with other vegetables, such as cauliflower.
Gentle cooking is key so that this soft pumpkin does not get -- gasp! -- mushy, but if it does, have no fear, add a splash of rice wine vinegar and eat it cold the next day; it’s a rather interesting substitute to creamy potato salad. I have to admit, that is my favorite way to have it.
This is inspired by this recipe (in Japanese): https://cookpad.com/recipe/4643158 —Emiko
Chop the squash into 1-inch pieces. Kabocha is a very soft squash once cooked, so you can choose to leave the skin on if you want it to retain its shape better and create contrast in color and texture. Otherwise, you can cut off the skin and discard it along with the seeds.
In a small saucepan, mix the squash, milk, soy sauce, and sugar and bring to a simmer. Cook uncovered for 15 minutes, then half-cover with a lid until the pumpkin is soft but not falling apart and the milk has turned into thick, curdled flecks a little bit similar to ricotta or cottage cheese.
Serve warm or cold with a splash of rice wine vinegar stirred through it.
The Australian-Japanese cookbook author has lived in Florence (where a visit to a cheese farm once inspired her to start a food blog) for over 10 years with her Tuscan sommelier husband and two kids. Her third cookbook, Tortellini at Midnight, is out now.