Kabocha pumpkin – a taste of autumn

JAPANESE-born cook Teruko Chagrin, who has lived in North Dorset for many years and used to write a column for the Blackmore Vale Magazine, now teaches Japanese cooking to small groups, and gives classes at Luke Stuart’s White Pepper Cookery School at Lytchett Matravers and for Christine McFadden at Little Bredy.

In the first of an occasional series of articles for the Fine Times Recorder, Teruko offers a delicious autumn dish, inspired by Japanese cuisine but utilising locally grown Kabocha pumpkin from Kensons organic farm in Sutton Mandeville. Kensons has a stall in Shaftesbury market on Thursday or visit their website,  http://kensonsfarm.wordpress.com


Kabocha pumpkin croquette

This is delicious as it is while it’s hot, and a Japanese spicy and sweet brown sauce goes well with it. It also freezes well, so why not make them for later? You can deep-fry them directly from the freezer.

For 2 people:

400g Kabocha pumpkin

1 egg

1 onion

1 tsp freshly ground nutmeg

1/2 tsp sea salt

1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper

50g plain flour

2 tbs sake

20ml cold water

1 cup, freshly made bread crumbs (I made them with my favourite long fermentation bread by using the food processor.)

Sunflower oil to cover the pan in 2 cm depth

Cut the Kabocha in half then take the seeds out and cut it into small and thin pieces to steam for approximately 15 to 20 minutes. Make sure they are cooked through by skewering them with a cocktail stick. Remove the skin when cooked.

While you are steaming the Kabocha, cut the onion finely then stir fry them very well with a little sunflower oil until they get transparent. Transfer the cooked onion into a large bowl together with the steamed Kabocha without the skin.

Mash and mix the Kabocha with the onion well and add the nutmeg, salt and black pepper. Make small croquette shapes using the hands. Prepare a bowl of the flour for dusting the croquettes lightly.

Beat an egg in a bowl larger than the croquette. Prepare a plate of the bread crumbs. After dipping in the beaten egg, place the croquette in the bread crumbs on a large plate. Cover it with more bread crumbs and lightly press the shape in your hands.

Prepare a wok or frying pan with 2 cm depth of vegetable oil then gently heat it up until it is right temperature for frying. Check the oil temperature by dropping a little batter into it. It should drop into the middle of the oil then come back to the surface. So you can count “One, two” in a second. It should be about 180°C. If the batter jumps back to the surface, it is too hot. If the batter didn’t come back in two seconds, it’s too low. (If you are cooking frozen ones, work in batches of four small croquettes. Make sure the oil keeps the same temperature.)

Put the croquettes into the oil then cook for about 1 minute until they are lightly brown before turning them over with tongs or a flat tool. (Make sure you don’t break the batter, otherwise it will get oilier.) Cook the other side for another minute until they become golden crispy.

Take the croquettes out of the oil then drain on a wire rack or on paper towels. Serve it warm as it is or with homemade Japanese style brown sauce!

For more of Teruko’s recipes and information about Japanese food visit her website, www.japanesefoodmenu.com