Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Uchiki kuri squash

My new favorite squash, the uchiki kuri (also called red kuri), is a Japanese cultivar with a teardrop shape and a beautiful reddish-orange skin. Near as I can figure out, the name uchiki kuri translates as bashful chestnut. Awwww. Not sure why bashful, but I definitely get the chestnut part, because the squash has a nice, mild, nutty flavor.

Not having cooked with it before, I wasn't sure what to do about the skin. But I know from years of writing about phytochemicals that there were certainly some important antioxidants hanging around in that deeply colored shell. I compromised by just taking off some of the skin so it wouldn't be a total loss either way. The peeling exposed the beautiful juxtaposition of green and orange you see in the photo at left. There is a similar greenish tinge in the flesh that holds the seeds in the seed cavity.

Turns out that the skin is perfectly edible, or at least in the exemplar that I roasted. The seeds, on the other hand, were encased in what I imagine dragon skin to be like. I roasted some of them with the squash and they were inedible. I will try some more roasted all by themselves, but I'm not sure the game is worth the candle, as my mother used to say (though I never knew what game she was talking about that involved a candle...was it Colonial kids playing a nighttime game of hide-n-seek?).

In the course of researching the kuri squash, I stumbled across several gardening sites with heirloom squash seeds*. In addition to the uchiki kuri, you can also get seeds for a squash called the potimarron, described as the "famous winter squash from France." The potimarron is in fact the same squash (C. maxima) but by another name. In French, potimarron is a mash-up of the words for pumpkin (potiron) and chestnut (marron). VoilĂ , chestnut squash. But it's not bashful, cuz, you know, it's French.

*Try this website: Seed Savers Exchange.

3 comments:

  1. how do you cook it?

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    2. It cooks in pretty much the same amount of time as butternut squash. Any recipe for butternut will work great for kuri squash. The nice thing about kuri compared with butternut, though, is that you don't have to peel it. I usually just cut the squash into cubes, toss with a little olive oil, salt, and pepper and roast it. I think I usually roast it at about 375°F. I don't remember off the top of my head how much time it takes. You'll just have to monitor the tenderness as it roasts.

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