After a handful of Indian summer days in October, blustery weather and frigid rain has finally set in. Not wanting to stray far from home, I headed to the Chinese grocery store for kabocha (pumpkin), gobo (burdock root) and pork shoulder.
I love kabocha pumpkin for its creamy texture, petite size (easy to handle), and quick-cooking (when compared with the other squashes of the season). There’s a heartiness and sweetness to its yellow flesh, plus you can eat the nutritious green skin. Kabocha is a favorite of the Japanese, who serve it simply boiled, hot or cold as a vegetable side dish.
To make it a complete one-pot meal, I decided to braise some pork shoulder with the kabocha and an earthy Japanese root vegetable called gobo. Served over steaming hot white rice, this Japanese stew becomes the highlight of any rainy evening.
* 1 lb pork shoulder
* 2 lbs kabocha pumpkin
* 2 foot-long pieces of gobo (burdock root), peeled and sliced diagonally into 1/4″-thick pieces
* 2 tablespoons flour
* 5 cups dashi
* 1/4 cup mirin
* 1/3 cup soy sauce
* 1/2 cup sugar
Cut meat into 2-inch pieces and pat dry with paper towels (do not rinse). Spread meat on a large piece of waxed paper or the butcher paper it came in. Sprinkle flour over meat, toss to coat, then shake meat in a colander to rid it of excess flour; do in batches if the colander is small.
Coat bottom of a 5- to 7-quart Dutch oven with a thin film of oil and set pot over medium-high heat. When oil shimmers, add enough meat to cover bottom in 1 layer. Cook, without stirring, until meat lifts easily from pot with tongs and is well browned on bottom, about 5 minutes. Turn and brown on the other side, about 5 minutes more. Transfer meat to a plate and continue with remaining meat, adding more oil to pot in between batches as needed.
When last batch of meat has been removed, add some of the dashi to pot, stirring to released browned bits. Return meat and any accumulated juices to pot. Add gobo and all of the remaining ingredients except for the kabocha to pot. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer 60 minutes or until meat is tender.
Meanwhile, with a large, heavy knife, cut the kabocha in half through stem end. Scoop out and discard seeds and strings. Cut kabocha into 1-inch chunks.
After meat has cooked 1 hour add kabocha to the pot. Let liquid come to a boil, then reduce heat, cover, and simmer 30 minutes more. Serve over white rice.