Simmered Kabocha Nimono

An easy side dish, the sweet flavor of the kabocha is highlighted through the salty umami of the simmering sauce. 

“Nimono” is a class of Japanese dishes known as “simmering dishes”. In nimono, ingredients are simmered in a mix of broth and flavorings until the liquid is absorbed and the flavors are embedded into the ingredients.

The most common flavoring combination used in nimono is a mix of soy, sugar, sake and/or mirin. A seafood-based dashi stock is also central to cooking nimono. I also like adding ginger to give it that extra little depth.

Nimono that is made of a singular vegetable like this Simmered Kabocha recipe are often served as side dishes to compliment the full meal setting. This particular recipe is especially easy to prepare in bulk ahead of time and serve it throughout the week in various meals.

simmmered kabocha squash

Simmered Kabocha Nimono

A sweet and savory side dish perfect for a Japanese-style meal
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Course Side Dish
Cuisine Japanese


  • 1 large pot or frying skillet
  • 1 drop lid use aluminum foil if you don't own this


  • 1/2 kabocha squash
  • 2 cups dashi stock see notes on how to make dashi

Simmering Sauce

  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1 tbsp minced ginger
  • 2 tbsp sake


  • If you don't own a drop lid, create one using aluminum foil! Take a piece of foil larger that you pot and fold in the edges until it just fits within the pot. Punch holes through the center of the foil with a chopstick so that you have a large steam vent. This will be your drop lid.
    homemade drop lid made of shaped foil with venting holes cut in the middle
  • Cut the kabocha squash into ~1" cubes. If the kabocha squash is too hard, pop it in the microwave for 2 min to soften and try cutting again.
    1/2 kabocha squash
  • Line the bottom of a pot with the kabocha squash in a single layer.
    1/2 kabocha squash
    cubed kabocha squash lining a cooking pot in a single layer
  • Mix the simmering sauce ingredients together with the dashi stock. Pour into the pot.
    1 tbsp soy sauce, 1 tbsp sugar, 1 tbsp minced ginger, 2 tbsp sake, 2 cups dashi stock
  • Bring pot to boil on high.
  • Once boiling, turn down to medium low heat to simmer. Cover ingredients with the drop lid and cook for 20-30 min, or until liquid has mostly evaporated and the kabocha squash is tender.
  • Turn off heat and let kabocha sit in the pot with the pot lid covering to cool, about 30 minutes.
  • Serve at room temp or chilled.


It’s best to make dashi ahead of time and have some on hand in the fridge (see recipe for overnight dashi stock)
If you don’t have this, then take 4 cups water, 1 4″x4″ piece of konbu, and ~2 TBSP of katsuoboshi* and heat in a pot. Reduce heat to simmer BEFORE it gets to boiling (you want to avoid boiling konbu to prevent a slight bitter taste. It’s not the end of the world if you do though, but some people find it better to not let it reach boiling). Simmer for 10 minutes, then remove the konbu and katsuoboshi from the stock. 
If you lack ingredients to make dashi stock, then plain water will do for this recipe.  
Keyword nutritious, pumpkin

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