From late summer through the fall, several kinds of squash and pumpkin are on the market. The following recipe should make a flavorful addition to your bake-with-butter or pumpkin-pie repertory.
The basic recipe is for acorn squash, though butternut squash and pumpkin are delicious, too. Since butternut is often sweeter and softer than acorn squash, for it you may wish to reduce both the amount of sugar and the cooking time. Pumpkin, on the other hand, will require longer cooking (at least 10 minutes more unless cut into very small pieces). You will need to increase the amounts of stock, sugar and rice wine by a teaspoon or two.
Cut the squash into 4–6 wedges and remove the seeds from each piece. Wash the skin and pat the pieces dry.
Combine the stock, sugar, soy sauce and rice wine in a saucepan just large enough to hold the squash in one layer. Heat the seasoned stock and stir it until the sugar has dissolved. Add the wedges of squash, skin side down, and simmer them until tender but firm (about 15 minutes). For best results in simmering the squash, use a dropped lid (otoshi-buta). If cooking without one, be sure to ladle the seasoned stock over the squash frequently.
When the squash is tender, remove it from the saucepan and add the chicken meat to the remaining liquid. Simmer, stirring constantly to separate the pieces of ground meat, for about 3 minutes, or until the meat has turned white and is thoroughly cooked.
Mix the cornstarch and cold water together before adding it to the meat and liquid. Stir over high heat while the sauce thickens. Pour the sauce over the cooked squash. Serve warm or at room temperature.
© 1986 Elizabeth Andoh. All rights reserved.