Dashi-Braised Kabocha

by Marina Chotzinoff

Dashi is a magical ingredient- adding a hint of smoke and umami to any dish. We love it in chawan mushi, soups and as one of the best sources of depth we can add to a dish. This is a variation on a theme we use with sweet potatoes, pork and potato stew and blackened green beans. We often make it from scratch bringing a sheet of kombu to a simmer in 4 cups water, then steeping for 10 minutes. We then add a healthy handful of bonito flakes and steep until they sink. Strain through a fine mesh strainer and use within a couple days. On lazy days or when we just need that extra boost, we use the granulated version.
Dashi-braised Kabocha Squash

Makes 4 sides
1 medium kabocha squash
2 tablespoons oil (canola or light olive)
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1 cup dashi
1 tablespoon soy
2 tablespoons mirin
1/2 teaspoon chili garlic paste (more to taste)
cilantro, chopped, for garnish
green onion, thinly sliced, for garnish

Cut kabocha in half, seed and cut into about 8 moon shapes. Mix remaining ingredients except cilantro and green onion.

Heat a large pan over medium high heat. Add both oils to pan and add squash. Cook a few minutes until slightly brown. Flip and cook a few more minutes. Add liquid mixture and simmer about 20 minutes or until squash is tender when pierced with a sharp knife, flipping over about halfway through. Toward the end the liquid will turn syrupy. Shake the pan to coat all pieces and remove to a plate.

Garnish with cilantro and green onion.

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