If you're wondering what is up with all this kabocha, I'm guessing that you still haven't tried it. It's definitely in the top three best winter squashes category, along with delicata and buttercup. We're big squash eaters in my family, pretty much eating them every night, and now that I found a good place to buy locally grown kabocha, it is a regular. Add to that the fact that Thanksgiving is right around the corner and that I am trying to add that flavor to my blog, I'm going kabocha crazy.
I wanted to do this, since I'm concentrating on desserts for Thanksgiving, leading up to that holiday. What could do better than serving up home made ice cream with your home made pie? Japanese Cooking 101, has a great recipe for green tea ice cream, which I had already used once for my sister's birthday. It's quick, it's easy, and it's great to make ahead of time because, you know, it keeps in the freezer. While I was at it, I decided to try making kabocha ice cream, after reading a brief mention of it while doing research on ice cream in Japan.
It would seem that in Japan ice cream isn't as big a thing as it is in America. They don't have nearly as many brands and the serving sizes are minuscule by US standards. The one area they have us beaten is in the weird flavor department. Here in Maine we might have lobster ice cream (yes that's a real thing and no, I've never tried it) but in Japan they have python ice cream. Sadly that isn't a Monty Python themed dessert like Ben and Jerry's Vermonty Python, it's an ice cream that's actually flavored like the snake. Other bazzar flavors include jelly fish, cow tongue, and horse meat, three things I haven't eaten even in a savory dish. Other more normal flavors, and to be clear I don't mean normal for ice cream, are things like fried oysters, miso ramen (complete with fish cakes), squid, eel, garlic, and whitebait (don't forget the dried sardine sprinkles!).
I guess it shouldn't be that surprising, since we are talking about the culture that brought us baked potato Kitkats. There seems to be a much thinner line there between dessert and dinner. One type that I kept seeing on different lists of wired flavors was sweet potato, which didn't make any sense to me. Anyone who has eaten sweet potato pone (how many people though, really?) knows that sweet potatoes are awesome in dessert.
Green tea ice cream is pretty popular in Japan and, unlike those other flavors, it's not hard to see why. It's a delightful flavor, subtle, creamy, and sweet. My favorite ice cream parlor, Morton's Moo in Ellsworth, Maine, makes green tea ice cream and it's my favorite flavor they have there. The recipe I use is almost as good.
As far as the kabocha ice cream goes, I used the same recipe with a few changes. First I replaced the matcha with nutmeg, ginger, and cloves (not huge on cinnamon in Japan). Secondly, I added a cup of cooked and mashed kabocha to the custard as it was cooling. Considering how off the cuff this was, it went really well. The flavor and texture were great! (If you want to try this but can't find kabocha, I suggest using buttercup squash instead).
I'm really looking forward to eating these ice creams on Thanksgiving. If you have an ice cream maker, consider making one or both of them, I think you and your guest will love it! Plus, what's more impressive than making your own ice cream?
Until next time, don't forget that dessert is the most important part of Thanksgiving.