amy chaplin

celebrating the art of eating well

Nishimi squash

POSTED ON October 22, 2011

nishimi kabocha squash

Nishimi is a cooking style, that means long cooked with little water. I think of it as the opposite to oshitashi, which is vegetables that are briefly cooked in lots of water, like the blanched watercress you may have eaten in Japanese restaurants. Nishimi is best suited to the cooler months and for root vegetables or winter squash.

It has been years since I prepared squash this way and I’d forgotten how sweet and meltingly smooth it becomes. This cooking method is perfect for dense squash, like kabocha or buttercup that have a tendency to become dry when baked.

You can prepare any vegetable Nishimi-style. Some recipes layer 3 types in the same pot; what ever vegetable you use, you will end up with a depth of flavor that is hard to believe came from such simple ingredients.


snug in pot

When I worked at Shizen a Japanese restaurant in Amsterdam, Bastian, one of the gifted chefs who worked there, would trim the edges and carefully cut a decorative design in each wedge of squash before it was cooked. This became one of the many dishes in the beautiful, daily bento box.

cutting squash and pot with kombu

nishimi squash

Nishimi squash

The cooking liquid that you are left with when the squash is done is deliciously sweet and can be poured over the squash when serving.  Or, you can drink it, as I love to do.

½ a medium winter squash, use either butter cup or kabocha

2 inch piece Kombu

1 cup filtered water

1 teaspoon mirin

1 teaspoon tamari

Pinch sea salt

Toasted black sesame seeds to garnish

Remove seeds from squash and cut into 1 ½ inch wedges. Cut each wedge in half so you have triangular shape pieces. Place the kombu in a heavy bottomed pot, one that will snugly fit all the squash. Pour in water and lie the squash skin side down over the kombu.

Add the mirin, tamari and a pinch of salt to the center of the pot. Place over a high heat and bring to a boil. Lower heat, cover and simmer for 20 to 25 minutes, or until squash is soft all the way through. The cooking time will depend on how thick the flesh of your squash is. Remove from heat and gently life squash into serving bowls and sprinkle with sesame seeds.
Serves 6 as a side dish.

TAGGED UNDER: kabocha, mirin

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  • rosalia says:

    would this work well with a winter squash? Can I replace mirin with something else? Thank you

  • Jennifer says:

    This squash looks lovely. It reminds me of a dish I had in China in which the squash was served with whole garlic cloves. I loved the flavor but my version did not compare. I will try this soon!

    BTW, thanks for the website!

  • obd2 says:

    Excellent blog you have here but I was wondering if you knew of any community forums that cover the same topics discussed here? I’d really like to be a part of online community where I can get opinions from other knowledgeable people that share the same interest. If you have any suggestions, please let me know. Thank you!

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