Zuccurì (Cucurbita maxima)
Hearty, tender and bursting with natural sweetness, kabocha squash is a core element of Washoku, and provides a delicious balance of starch, sugar and moisture to each dish.
Zuccurì is a specific variety of kabocha squash which is likened to a chestnut in its sweetness and a sweet potato in its texture. This versatile winter squash is packed with flavor from its vibrant orange interior to its edible dark green exterior skin. Its soft consistency first crumbles and then melts in the mouth, a unique characteristic that comes from its starch content. Zuccuri is a bit dry, not wet and viscous like a classic kabocha squash or common pumpkin, but its natural sweetness is often misleading to the point that many think Zuccuri has been artificially sweetened.
Zuccurì is a customary winter staple in Japan and a reliable source of vitamins when vitamin and carotene rich veg is scarce, as it can be stored for up to three months in a cool, dry place. Traditionally enjoyed on winter solstice in Japan, zuccurì is often prepared in a sweet soup with adzuki beans in the wintertime as it is believed to help boost the immune system and prevent colds.
Cooking with Zuccurì
Enjoy Zuccurì simmered, sautéed, dipped in tempura batter, roasted for a saccharine, melt-in-your-mouth sensory experience. This sweet winter kabocha squash pairs well with warming spices like nutmeg, clove and sage, as well as pears, cilantro, spinach, and parsley.
Zuccurì holds its form well when cooked and can be added in cubes to soups, stews, curries and casseroles. You can even enjoy it as a natural cake by microwaving one-fourth of the Zuccuri (500g approx.) for six minutes.