Editor's Note: Please welcome Shao Z., a Guangzhou native and the girl behind friedwontons4u.com. She'll be dropping by with her Asian-inspired modern recipes. Welcome, Shao!
Soy sauce and butter is one of my favorite flavor combinations. It's all about balance: The two go hand in hand, with the richness of the butter mellowing the saltiness of the soy sauce and, conversely, the saltiness of the soy sauce cutting the richness of the butter.
The sauce is great with almost everything—pasta, fried rice, salmon, beef; in Japan you'll even find it in flavoring packets served with your McDonald's french fries—but it's especially wonderful on vegetables. In the summer months, I like to drizzle it on grilled corn and sprinkle nori flakes and scallions on top. When the weather gets colder, I like to combine it with sweet and intense kabocha squash. Roasted, its flavors all intensify and the texture becomes creamy and satisfying.
This side dish is easy and quick to prepare, and looks great on the holiday table. A sprinkle of shichimi togarashi—a Japanese seven-spice blend made with chili, sesame, orange zest, and more—adds some heat to the mix, though a pinch of red pepper flakes will do the trick as well.
Step 1: Scrape the Seeds
Wash the squash (using a vegetable peeler to remove any unwashable spots of dirt), then split the kabocha in half and use a metal spoon to scrape out the seeds and pulp. You can roast the seeds or discard them.
Step 2: Dice the Squash
Kabocha has thin, tender skin that can be eaten as-is. All you have to do is dice the flesh into bite-sized chunks.
Step 3: Make the Sauce
The simple sauce is nothing but a couple of tablespoons of unsalted butter mixed with a tablespoon of soy sauce and a sprinkle of shichimi togarashi. You can melt the butter in a microwave-safe bowl or in a small saucepan on the stovetop.
Step 4: Toss the Squash
Toss the squash with the sauce in a large bowl to evenly coat it.
Step 5: Spread it Out
Spread the squash out in an even layer on a parchment-lined rimmed baking sheet. You want to make sure that there's a bit of space between each piece so that they can brown and cook evenly from all sides.
Step 6: Roast
Roast the squash in a preheated 400°F oven until tender and lightly browned, about 20 minutes.
Serve the squash as-is with a salad for a light lunch, or as a side dish for a heartier meal.