Winter is the season when people in Japan enjoy kabocha the most. Simmered, fried in korokke, or as part of a soup, the rich creamy texture and sweet taste of kabocha is a comforting, warming experience when the weather is cold. Likewise, in the west, and particularly in America, pumpkin pie is a dessert associated with cold weather, and our string of winter holidays. Try the following recipe for a fun take on the American dessert that marries the winter food traditions of east and west in one go!
Kabocha Pumpkin Pie
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour 20 minutes
Total Time: 3 hours, 50 minutes
2.5 lbs kabocha pumpkin, whole with seeds and skin
2 tbsp unsalted butter
2 tbsp sugar
1 large egg yolk
2 large eggs
⅓ cup brown sugar
2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
½ tsp kosher/sea salt (Use half for table salt)
1 tbsp rum
200 ml heavy (whipping) cream (¾ cup + 2 Tbsp)
1 pie crust (you can make it yourself, or use a pre-made store-bought crust)
Whipped cream for topping, if desired.
For this recipe, you will need a metal steamer basket, a potato masher, and a strainer. Or, if you have one, a food processor can do the job of the masher and strainer.
First, add one cup of water to a deep-walled frying pan, and place the steamer basket open inside.
Prepare the kabocha for steaming. Using a large knife, cut the kabocha in half, and then scoop and discard the seeds. Once the seeds have been completely removed, cut the kabocha into approximately 1 inch cubes.
Transfer the kabocha pieces, skin side down, into the steamer basket, and cover the pan with a lid. Using high heat, steam the kabocha for 15 minutes.
One the time has elapsed, check the kabocha by inserting a toothpick into a thick piece. If the toothpick passes through easily, the kabocha is done and can be removed from the steamer and allowed to cool. When the kabocha is cool enough to handle, use a knife to remove the skin from each piece.
Transfer the skinned kabocha to a large metal bowl, mash to a fine texture with the potato masher, and then use a spoon to press the mashed kabocha through the mesh of the strainer to refine the texture. If you have a food processor, you can use it at this stage to puree the kabocha until it is smooth.
Preheat the oven to 400F, and prepare your pie crust as is appropriate to whatever crust you have decided to use.
In a large bowl, combine the butter and the sugar. Whisk until it has a creamy consistency.
Add the egg yolk and two eggs, taking time to whisk the mixture thoroughly before adding each egg.
Add 2 cups of pureed kabocha, and mix well using the whisk.
Add the brown sugar, pumpkin pie spice, and salt and continue to whisk until thoroughly combined.
Finally, add the rum and whipping cream, whisking until the mixture is a consistent color and texture.
Pour the finished filling into the pie crust, then tap the crust on the table a few times to ensure that there are no air bubbles.
Bake at 400F for 15 minutes, and then reduce the oven to 350F. Continue to bake for another 50 minutes or until a toothpick inserted at the center of the pie comes out clean.
Once the pie is finished, allow to cool completely. This usually takes about 2 hours.
Serve immediately with a dollop of whipped cream if desired, or refrigerate. The pie will keep in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.