Friday, October 9, 2009

Simmered Japanese Squash with Ground Chicken

Sweet, succulent squash makes this dish both simple to make and crowd-pleasing. Even my picky nieces would eat it as children.

This recipe calls for a Japanese kitchen gadget called otoshi buta, or a wooden drop lid, pictured at left. The drop lid fits inside the pot, directly atop the food, to help the food simmer faster. Don't have a drop lid? Neither do I. Just use a regular pot lid 1-2 sizes smaller than your pot.

Shoyu is Japanese soy sauce. It can be found at Japanese markets, at Whole Foods, and increasingly, at regular grocery stores. It's deep, mellow flavor is much more complex than regular soy sauce.

You can use ground turkey in this dish instead of chicken but it tends to dry out. I'd recommend kneading the raw turkey with an onion and some of the shoyu before adding it to the pot to help keep it moist.

Time: 30 minutes
Serves: 4, accompanied by rice, soba noodles, or whole grain bread

1 medium butternut or red kuri squash, or 2-3 delicata squash, peeled, seeded, and cut into 1" chunks.
1/2 pound ground chicken
4 t shoyu or soy sauce; more to taste
1.5 T agave or 5 T sugar

1) Place the squash, 1 1/4 cups of water, agave, and 2 t shoyu in a 3-4 quart saucepan. Cover with the drop lid. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat until squash is tender.
2) Using an oven mitt, remove the drop lid. Crumble chicken over the top of the squash. Sprinkle with remaining 2 t shoyu or more to taste.
3) Replace pot lid (not drop lid). Cook 3-4 minutes until chicken is cooked through.

This recipe is adapted from Masako Yamaoka, "A First Book of Japanese Cooking," Kodansha International, 1996.
This Wikipedia and Wikimedia Commons image is from the user Chris 73 and is freely available at under the creative commons cc-by-sa 2.5 license.

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