Hearty Bacon and Kabocha Salad is made with sweet and chunky Kabocha, smokey bacon, and hand softened onion. This delicious salad can be served anytime in place of potato salad – at a picnic or barbecue, on a sandwich, or as a side dish at a family meal.
Kabocha (南瓜) is a type of winter squash grown in Japan but also widely available in the US and in other countries. Also known as Japanese pumpkin, Kabocha has a green outer skin and orange flesh. When cooked the skin and the flesh are completely edible with only the seeds and the stringy pulp are not used in this wonderful salad. When you prepare kabocha, be sure it’s ripe. The 2006 edition of Gochiso Web Magazine on Page 8 has a wonderful article on kabocha along with some great recipes if you want to learn more. Kabocha is used widely in Japanese cooking- in hot pots, salads, tempura, stir fries, etc. It tastes a bit like a mixture of a carrot and a sweet potato with the texture of a potato.
I first tried the Kabocha salad back about 30 years ago when I was living in the US. My Japanese friends showed me how to make this dish using hand softened onions. Instead of cooking, the onions are kneaded in a plastic bag for 30-45 minutes until they are completely softened and they lost their bite. The bag has to be opened occasionally to drain and to let the air out. The onions and bacon go perfectly with the kabocha make a hearty and chunky salad. Any mayonnaise will do, but Japanese mayonnaise gives it an authentic Japanese touch. A,couple,of hard boiled eggs can also be mixed in if desired. The only additional spice that’s added in is a touch of salt and some paprika to taste.
This is a wonderful Japanese dish that your whole family can enjoy. Try it as a side dish or an appetizer served over a bed of lettuce. Let me know what you think in the comments section, below.
(originally posted in June 2021, updated on May 2023)