Feb 26, 2015

Bring color to your table ☆Kabocha and chicken with sweet sour sauce recipe

Today's lunch was chicken with sweet sauce, a very simple, quick cooking dish. I still have Kabocha which was harvested last September, and have been using them for everyday cooking ever since. Sadly, only one is left in my basement. I won't have my home grown Kabocha for the next seven months!

I ordered Kabocha seeds last November, made a plant label, secured a space for Kabocha in my 2015 crop rotation picture in last December, and dream about how well Kabocha will grow this year....  To the gardeners Spring is a long time coming.  

In the other posting, I said Kabocha can be stored for a long time. Yes, Kabocha is an excellent vegetable in that respect and a good,  nutritious value. Kabocha also does another great job for your dish---adding color. Food's natural color is one important tool in presentation.  Green from the skin of Kabocha gives the impression of freshness.  The orange interior also provides a warm, colorful, active image, and as a whole, these colors stimulate appetite.

If you don't have a Kabocha, other vegetables can be substituted, or you can cook only chicken with sweet sour sauce. But just think about addding a bit of color in your dish to enjoy it with your eyes, too. Especially if you're in a cold climate area where it is all too white outside!

Chicken And Kabocha With Sweet Sour Sauce Recipe


  • 10oz Chicken breast 
  • 5oz Kabocha
  • 1/2  Small size onion
  • 1/8 Red sweet pepper
  • 2tbsp Potato starch
  • 1/2tbsp Sake
  • 1tsp Sesame oil
  • A pinch of black pepper
  • 1tbsp vegetable oil

Sweet Sour Sauce
  • 3tbsp Rice vinegar
  • 3tbsp Low sodium soy sauce
  • 3tbsp Light brown sugar
  • 2tbsp Ketchup
  • 2tbsp Sake
  • 1tbsp Mirin
  • 4tbsp Water
  • 1tbsp Potato starch
Serves 2
1.  Cut the vegetables into easy-to-eat sizes.
★If Kabocha is too hard to slice, microwave the Kabocha until soft.

2. Slice the chicken by making small, thin diagonal cuts, then marinate in the mix of sake, sesame oil, pinch of black pepper and potato starch.

3. In a small mixing bowl, combine all 8 ingredients for the sweet sour sauce. Mix well.

4. Heat the half the tablespoon of oil in a frying pan. Add the Kabocha and cook until slightly charred and soft. Remove the Kabocha from the frying pan and set aside.

5. Add the remaining oil to the frying pan. When hot, stir-fry the chicken for about 3 minutes, until tender. Add onions and red peppers. When all is cooked, add sweet sour sauce mixture.
★As potato starch will stay in the bottom of  the bowl, mix the sweet sour sauce well again right before adding.

6.Mix well with the chicken, vegetables and sauce until the sauce boils and becomes thicker. Remove from the heat. Add the cooked Kabocha and gently mix together.
★Unlike corn starch, liquids thickened with potato starch should not be boiled too long because the viscosity will be reduced. Potato starch is good for warm dishes with a clear finish soup or sauce.

Feb 22, 2015

Orange is the new salad ☆Kabocha salad recipe

Kabocha Salad Recipe


  • 10 oz Kabocha (1/4 of a small sized Kabocha)
  • 1/4 cup Water
  • 1/3 cup Plain Yogurt
  • 1/3 cup Raisins 
  • 1 tbsp Mayonnaise (Japanese Mayonnaise is better)

Serves 2-3

1. Wash Kabocha well and remove seeds. Cut Kabocha into 3'' square pieces. Place into a heat resistant container with water. Put on the lid and microwave about 4-5 minutes until cooked.

2. Remove Kabocha's skin with a spoon.

3. Combine Kabocha, yogurt, raisins and mayonnaise in a small mixing bowl until the Kabocha is slightly mashed.

Feb 15, 2015

The most common dish ☆Kabocha nimono recipe

What is the most common Kabocha dish in Japan? My answer is "Kabocha Nimono". I'm sure that almost all Japanese will tell you the same thing. Kabocha Nimono is very basic, but very tasty and it reminds me of my mother's home cooking. 

Nimono is a simmered dish in Japanese cooking which is cooked with a small amount of liquid combined with dashi soup, soy souse, sake, mirin etc. Usually we cook until the liquid is absorbed well into the ingredients. It is much easier than making sushi!

Kabocha Nimono
You can eat green skin which contains carotene and fiber!

Kabocha Nimono Recipe


  • 1.5lb Kabocha
  • 1 1/4 cup Dashi soup
  • 2tbsp  Low sodium soy sauce
  • 2tbsp Sake
  • 2tbsp Mirin
  • 1bsp Sugar
Serves 4-5

1. Wash Kabocha well and remove seeds. Cut Kabocha into 3'' square pieces.
★If you cut Kabocha into too small, they will lose shape in the pot.

2. Combine dashi, soy sauce, sake and mirin in a cooking pot and bring it to boil. Put Kabocha tightly in the pot. Green skin side down.
★Use a pot just big enough to put Kabocha to avoid losing shape. Green skin helps to hold the shape and can be eaten!

3. Cook Kabocha covered (sligtly make a gap between lid and pot) until tender at medium low, about 20-30 minutes, depending on how hard your Kabocha is.

About me and my blog

My garden in winter

Hi and welcome to "Miki's Garden to Kitchen". I'm Miki, a lady from Japan who loves gardening and cooking.  After living with my American husband in Europe and Asia for many years, I finally settled down to his family homestead in a wilderness area called the Pennsylvania Wilds with my international family, my American husband, a black cat from Belgium and a Maine coon cat from Hong Kong.

While living in Europe, I establshed a gardening club and wrote about gardening and life style for a magazine, which become my second career after working in Japan doing industrial marketing and completing graduate school in Brussels for European Business. Meanwhile I traveled all over the world and experienced different styles of cooking-- from Michelin star restaurants to street hawker food-- with different kinds of ingredients, including local vegetables.

Now I have 75'X35' vegetable garden, protected by a 7' high electrified bear and deer fence,  where I grow about 40 different vegetables so that I don't need to give up eating my favorite Asian vagetables in this rural area. Many  of my vegetables originate from Asia and are commonly used in Asian cooking. I also grow Western vegetables and Asian cultivars of Western vegetables such as a cold tolelant Japanese cultivar of Western cabbage.

Wherever I am and whatever language people speak, I believe that a sense of 'good taste' can be shared across the world. I'd like to share information and knowledge across the internet. Thank you for visiting here.

Miki from Japan 

My husband, Greg who built our cabin and cable car himself.

Kiwi from Belgium.

Towser from Hong Kong.

Feb 14, 2015

Kabocha for winter

It will be -15 degrees F (-26C) tomorrow. Nothing is growing in my garden. There are some vegetables hibernating under the snow, and the Kabocha I harvested last fall are in our basement. Kabocha is a general term for Japanese winter squash.  Unlike other vegetables, freshness is not important. In fact, it is better to wait at least one month after harvesting as this will increase the sweetness and rich flavor.

The Kabocha  in this photo was harvested on 15 Sep. 2014 and stored until 14 Feb 2015. Since Kabocha can be stored for such a long time, it was a precious preseved food for winter in Japan. We have a custom to eat Kabocha on the winter solstice. It is believed to prevent getting paralysis and colds.

I notice that Kabocha is becoming more popular in many countries,  including USA. I live in a rural area,  but I can sometimes find locally produced Kabocha at a big supermarket and farmer's markets. One thing I should mention here is Kabocha has many different kinds of cultivars which each have distinctive taste.  Grenerally Kabocha sold in the states is a cultivar with green skin and a rounded shape. These are sweeter than butternut squash.

The cultivar I grow every year is called 'Hokkori 133'. It's really nutty flavored with a dry texture and sweet. It's good for grilling, tempura, soup, and more! You can buy  these and other seeds from KITAZAWA SEED CO.

When the stem becomes cork, it's time to harvest.