Kimo Ahia lives in the southeastern corner of Washington where he grows Kabocha squash and emailed me his recipe for soup. I tried it and it’s delicious! So I asked him to tell us how and why he started growing Kabocha, and here is his reply. ~RdC
In the same gourd family as the Hubbard and Butternut squash, this hard, dark green to sometimes splotchy orange squash may not be the beauty queen but is the sweetest of the group. The dark orange flesh shows out in vegetable tempura and soups. Anyone trying to use the 'Jack-o-lantern' pumpkin as a substitute will be very disappointed. When checking Kabocha in the market, look for 'corky' stems, dull gray-green color, and heavy for the size. Save the seeds and roast for a snack.
I started growing it as a challenge, frustrated that none of the mainland pumpkins had the taste and firmness I had grown accustomed to 'Hawaiian' pumpkins. Because Kabocha requires a minimum of 100 growing days, I start the plants early, using the 'Walls of Water' enclosure to warm the soil and protect the plants past the last frost. The planting holes are about 3 feet in diameter, getting a full bag of steer manure and good potting soil mixed in as soon as the soil can be worked. A 3-4 inch high berm is left and the Walls of Water put in place to start warming the soil. After a week the seeds are planted directly in the ground inside the protective wall. I water each planting hole daily once the plants are fully out and stretching. Good liquid fertilizer is applied weekly. To be successful, you have to watch for blooms and hand pollinate before 9:00 AM each day. Once you get the first 10-12 from each hole swelling and growing, remove any other female flowers as they occur in order to have all the energy going to the early set. Kabocha is very susceptible to wet rot from contact with the ground so try to elevate each squash on dry hay or even a small trellis. Harvest just before a heavy frost is forecast. After washing dirt off the squash, dip it into a chlorine rinse, 1 oz per gallon of water, let dry and store in a cool dry place.
Below is Kimo’s recipe for Kabocha Soup:
1 Kabocha pumpkin, peeled, seeded and cut in 1” chunks
Saute garlic, onion with olive oil in 8+ quart pot over medium heat. Add chopped pork and brown. Add water, ginger, broth powder and cook till pork is done. Add all of the pumpkin to the pot with enough water to about 1 inch below top of ingredients. Cook on low medium until pumpkin is done and starting to break apart. Add in Portuguese sausage and simmer till most of pumpkin has pureed itself with just a few tiny chunks left. Add salt to taste before serving.
Great with fresh Portuguese sweet bread or rolls accompanied by a small salad.
*Note: can substitute Zenner’s linguisa for Portuguese sausage.
Kimo Ahia was born in Ola`a, Hawai`i (now Kea`au), raised in Mt. View plantation village, moved to Kurtistown for 6th grade year, then to Kamehameha School in Honolulu for the next 6 years, graduating in 1960. He attended UH-Hilo, then Mānoa, leaving senior year for work and marriage. He continued his education over the years at UHHC, Kauai CC, West Oahu College, and others but no degree. Kimo was a seasonal ranger at Hawai`i Volcanoes National Park in the early 1960's then got into construction. He joined C. Brewer's Brewer Chemical division in 1975 and left in 1993 after serving as island manager on Kauai and three more years on the Big Island. His departure from Hawai`i was spurred by the rapid shutting down of sugar and pineapple plantations and a desire to stay in the agricultural field. He did market and product development work for Western Farm Service covering the Pacific Northwest states of Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana, and Colorado for the next seven years. He finished his career selling GMC, Buick, and Pontiacs for Dayle Graves in Walla Walla.
Kimo says, “My wife Kathy and I love to travel, getting to Europe twice, New Zealand, and all over the mainland along with Canada. We enjoy our mountain cabin and snowmobiling in the winter. Best of all has been linking up with other Hawaii folks so that we are always getting a transfusion of the aloha spirit! Our daughter lives on Kauai with our three grandchildren and our son is in Dallas, Texas. For fun I do karaoke-based shows at various senior centers, Hawaiian-themed based on Don Ho, Oldies, and now Gospel ones. Great way to keep young!”
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