The condiments are normally soy sauce, sake, mirin (sweet cooking-sake) and dashi (Japanese soup stock). You adjust these to suit the kind of food you are cooking. I don’t use sake and dashi for pumpkin because it already has a strong, deep taste. I think soy sauce and mirin are enough.
In the autumn you can get a great many different kinds of pumpkin.
There is such a variety of colours, shapes and tastes to delight our eyes and taste buds! Still, I was shocked to find that all the pumpkin flavours we get here are totally different to the kinds I was used to eating in Japan!
Nowadays you can buy the Japanese kinds (kabocha) in supermarkets, so when they arrive, I always buy several and stock them at home. They have names like Green Delicious, Hokkaido, Kabocha, Ebisu … Their taste is sweet, like a chestnut, the shell is green and the inside is a deep orange colour.
Kabocha is very, very hard to cut! The first cut in particular is not easy. Use a big strong knife, and cut slowly. However, it’s easy to break into pieces once it’s cooking. You can take the skin off, but we normally cook with the skin and eat that as well.