Tag: veggie sides

Simmered Kiriboshi Daikon

Simmered Kiriboshi Daikon

I’m not one for making rigid New Year’s Resolutions. I’m gonna eat the carbs and drink the wine. But this *is* a good time to reflect on your health in general and your overall eating habits. One thing I am always interested in is finding read more

Okonomiyaki Style Cabbage

Okonomiyaki Style Cabbage

A while back I posted my take on Okonomiyaki, Japan’s famous savory cabbage pancake. It’s filled to the brim with yummy delights like shrimp and bacon, and remains a family fave. But sometimes I’m craving this deconstructed version, where I cook just the cabbage, drizzled read more

Simmered Kabocha

Simmered Kabocha

If you love winter squashes but have never tried kabocha, you’re in a for a treat. Sometimes called Japanese pumpkin, Kabocha is sweeter than pumpkin and even than butternut squash. When gently simmered, it becomes incredibly tender and makes a perfect side for nearly any main dish. I love to make this Simmered Kabocha all winter long, it’s especially welcome at any holiday gathering. Kabocha’s natural sweetness makes this an ideal vegetable for even the pickiest of eaters and of course its gorgeous hue is just perfect for this time of year.

I’m going to be real. My daughter Emi and her girlfriend, who are graduating college seniors, use my website to deepen their culinary repertoire. And they often give me feedback, which is incredibly welcome, because I want to do my best for you guys and know that the recipe works as well for you as it does for me. One thing they mentioned this weekend is that my prep times are not accurate, since most people are not chopping at the same speed. So I will be working on that and trying to give you more accurate preparation times.

Which is all just a segue to the not so good news…pumpkins take some work to peel and cut. You want to work carefully and slowly because pumpkins are large, dense, roll around, and are not easy to cut. So some basic precautions: take your time and don’t rush the process, use a sharp knife, and put the pumpkin on the floor if you need more leverage to cut it open.

However, you can avoid this whole scenario if you wish, by leaving the pumpkin unpeeled. Japanese people peel all their produce. It enhances the look, giving that extra visual appeal, and makes your veggies shine. Moreover, since Japanese food focuses heavily on seasonality and aesthetics, it’s just part of normal food preparation. But you can absolutely eat the rind and it’s not necessary to remove it. I know you’re not daunted, so let’s get to it.

ingredients simmered kabocha

This is such a simple recipe, with just a few ingredients to really let the sweet, almost chestnut like flavors, of the kabocha shine. I start by cutting the squash in half. First, I put down a damp kitchen towel so the kabocha isn’t rolling all around while I’m trying to cut through it. (Since we’re only using half the squash, save the other half and make my Kabocha Soup!)

If the kabocha is particularly dense, it may be difficult for you to cut through the pumpkin. In that case, put it on the floor so you can put your weight behind the knife. Don’t attempt to cut through the kabocha in one shot. Cut into it from one side through the center and then flip the kabocha around and cut into it from the other side. You may need to do this a couple of times until you can cut down through the middle and split the pumpkin in half. Take your time.


If you’re a proud member of the Reduce Food Waste Club, you can save the seeds and roast them just like you would pumpkin seeds.

peel kabocha

Try to make fairly consistent cuts so it all cooks through at the same time. Once the kabocha is prepped, it’s time to cook. I add a few flavor boosters to the simmering liquid like dashi powder and mirin which add a subtle bit of umami and sweetness.


Let it gently simmer for 15-20 minutes. Check every so often that there’s still a little liquid left in the pan.  Once it’s done there will be very little left, but we don’t want it drying out and sticking to the pan before the Simmered Kabocha is completely cooked through and tender. When it’s done the squash will be easily pierced with a fork.

I love to serve Simmered Kabocha with holiday roasts or as side with Braised Short Ribs, Teriyaki Meatballs, or Pork Shogayaki. They are also lovely as part of a meatless meal.

beauty kabocha shot

I hope this becomes part of your regular winter meal rotation. Let me know what you think; you can rate the recipe and comment. And of course tag us in your pics @funkyasiankitchen, we love hearing from you!


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recipe simmered kabocha

Simmered Kabocha

  • Author: Funky Asian Kitchen
  • Prep Time: 20 minutes
  • Cook Time: 20 minutes
  • Total Time: 40 minutes
  • Yield: serves 4


  • 2 pounds kabocha pumpkin (about half a large one)
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 Tablespoon Sugar
  • 3 Tablespoons Mirin
  • ½ teaspoon dashi powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt


  1. Put the kabocha on a stable surface, either a cutting board with a damp towel under it to keep the board from moving, or just a damp towel, which is what I prefer. Use a sharp paring knife or any small knife and cut around the stem to remove it. 
  2. Put your knife in the middle of the kabocha where you just removed the stem and cut down into the kabocha. (You can put the pumpkin on the floor and do it this way if you’re having trouble. You will have better leverage this way).
  3. Flip the kabocha around and cut into it the same way. Repeat this as needed until you can cut the kabocha in half. Save the other half for another recipe.
  4. Scoop out the seeds and discard (or roast them on a baking sheet with a little oil) .
  5. Carefully put the cut side down and peel off the green skin, using small shallow cuts with a sharp knife. (You can also skip this step if you prefer to leave your pumpkin unpeeled).
  6. Slice the kabocha into thick slices and then cut across the cut to yield 1 ½ inch chunks.
  7. Place the kabocha into a medium pot and add the water, sugar, mirin, dashi powder, and salt.
  8. Bring the kabocha to a simmer over medium high heat. Stir to mix the cooking liquid and distribute the kabocha evenly in the pot. Cover with a lid and lower the heat to medium.
  9. Cook for 15-20 minutes, checking occasionally that the liquid has not all cooked off. Add a little more water as needed to keep the pot from being dry.
  10. The kabocha should be very tender and easily pierced with a fork and there should be very little liquid remaining in the pot.
  11. Serve Simmered Kabocha immediately. 


*This recipe still tastes good if you don’t have the mirin or dashi powder. Add a little more salt or sugar to taste as needed.

*You can of course use homemade dashi as well. Substitute 1/3 cup of homemade dashi for the water and continue with the recipe. I would not recommend using regular chicken or vegetable stock as it has too many other flavors. Use only water and adjust the seasonings instead.

*This kabocha tastes great hot, room temperature, or cold. Store any leftovers in the fridge and eat within several days.

Keywords: kabocha, pumpkin, japanese, quick,

Stir Fried Yu Choy

Stir Fried Yu Choy

Need a quick dinner? Stir fries are the way to go! Stir Fried Yu Choy is fast, healthy, and satisfying. Sometimes I make it with tofu, but today I’m sharing my recipe for Stir Fried Yu Choy with Chicken. I love the Asian practice of read more

Sesame Green Beans

Sesame Green Beans

There’s nothing better than having an arsenal of quick and delicious veggie sides. Something you can throw together while your main is cooking, but doesn’t taste thrown together. I’ve been making these Sesame Green Beans for years and we never grow tired of them. They read more

Braised Peppers

Braised Peppers

I don’t love green bell peppers. There, I said it. They have a bitterness that I’ve always found a little off-putting. When a recipe calls for them, I often substitute red bell peppers instead. But if there’s one thing I like less than green bell peppers, it’s food waste. And a couple weeks ago, I got a bunch of green bell peppers in my CSA box. (CSA stands for community supported agriculture. Local farmers let you buy in on the harvest before the growing season, and then each week you get locally raised fresh produce. Great support for local farmers, great food for you. To find one in your area, check out Local Harvest.)

So that’s how these Braised Peppers were born. I funked them up with some fun Asian ingredients, and for the first time in my life I actually enjoyed a green bell pepper dish. And I look forward to making it again. You can absolutely make this with red bell peppers instead, but I hope you try it with the green peppers; their assertive flavor works really well here.

braised peppers ingredients

Funky Braised Peppers

I approached making these Braised Peppers by first reaching for some of my favorite flavor boosters. Dried shrimp for a briny funk, and fish tofu for both texture and flavor. Fish tofu looks like firm tofu, and has a similar chewy texture, but it’s actually made from fish. It’s a fun and surprising ingredient that also packs a lot of protein, and it’s already conveniently made into bite sized pieces. You can use any other fish cakes that look appealing to you at your Asian market- there is a dizzying array. Oyster sauce adds a sweet complexity, and a drizzle of toasted sesame oil brings an appealing nuttiness.

So full disclosure, it seems like there are an awful lot of ingredients in this “green pepper” dish. I know, but baby steps. And I wanted to make sure there were plenty of other ingredients I love in the dish, just in case I didn’t love the peppers. So for those of you who are equally hesitant, I promise this is the green pepper dish for you!

slice braised peppers


garlic braised peppers

pan braised peppers

shrimp braised garlic

Once the veggies have been stir fried, it’s time to add the liquids and braise. Braising is an old technique used around the world, and if you typically eat your veggies raw or quickly cooked, it can be a revelation. The soft silky texture and muted flavors are so delicious and can pleasantly surprise even those who typically don’t love vegetables.

oyster braised peppers

fish cakes braised peppers

sesame braised peppers

These Braised Peppers are hearty enough to serve on their own with some steamed rice. But they also make a great side to my Mom’s Chicken, or serve them with a few other veggies dishes like Brown Butter Enoki and Japanese Style Spinach for a lighter meal.

Either way, this is a great recipe to convert you to green bell peppers, which are plentiful and inexpensive right now. Let me know what you think by rating and commenting on the recipe below; we love hearing from you! And of course tag us in your pics @funkyasiankitchen.

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recipe card braised peppers

Braised Peppers

  • Author: Funky Asian Kitchen
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 20 Minutes
  • Total Time: 30 minutes
  • Yield: serves 4
  • Category: side
  • Cuisine: Pan-Asian


  • 4 green peppers (or a mix of red and green)
  • 1 large onion
  • 2 Tablespoons neutral oil
  • 3 cloves garlic minced
  • 2 Tablespoons dried shrimp
  • 1 pack (7.5 oz) fish tofu (or other fish cakes)
  • 2 Tablespoons oyster sauce
  • ½ cup chicken stock
  • 2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
  • Fresh ground pepper to taste


  1. Cut the peppers in half lengthwise and pull out the stem and seeds. Cut the peppers into thick ½ inch wedges and set aside.
  2. Trim and peel the outer skin from the onion. Cut it in half and then slice the onion into thin ¼ inch pieces. Set aside.
  3. Heat a large deep skillet (or a Dutch Oven) over medium high heat for several minutes and add the oil. Swirl the pan to spread the oil and then add the peppers and onions. 
  4. Stir fry for 3 minutes until the onions start to become translucent and the skin on the peppers starts to blister.
  5. Add the dried shrimp and the garlic and stir them into the vegetables.
  6. Add the chicken stock and oyster sauce. Stir to combine. 
  7. Bring the pot to a simmer and cover with a lid.
  8. Lower the heat to medium and simmer for 15-20 minutes, stirring a couple of times while the peppers simmer. The peppers should be fully cooked and tender. 
  9. Add the fish tofu to the vegetables and stir to combine.
  10. Cook for an additional 2-3 minutes without the lid. Add the sesame oil and ground black pepper and stir one last time. Transfer to a deep plate and serve immediately.

Keywords: braised peppers, bell peppers, asian braised peppers, healthy sides, veggies