If October had a color, it would be orange. Jack-o’-lanterns and Halloween beg for it. Pumpkin pie is on the menu back home but here in Japan, whole pumpkins are too expensive to be used for anything. Canned pumpkin—I kid you not—has not been on shelves anywhere this year and last. I’ve resorted to begging my husband to lug 30 cans in his suitcase with every trip back. He loves me and agrees, bless that man.
Enter kabocha (かぼちゃ), the closest thing I’ve found to a pumpkin in Japan. I love this but it comes with a warning. A biggie.
It’s a beast to cut. I mean it. I can do it but it takes me a good five minutes to get the knife through the flesh. Use your biggest, best, sharpest, strongest butcher knife and be careful! I usually have to whack it a few times to make enough of a wedge to actually cut it apart.
The flesh of the kabocha is meaty and thick. Cut it into big chunks and bake it in the oven 180C (or 350F) for 30 minutes or until soft.
While the kabocha is softening, start your pie crust.
For the crust
- 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup frozen butter (or lard or vegetable shortening)
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 4~5 tablespoon ice water
Take note. The fat (butter/lard/shortening) must be frozen, and the ice water must contain ice. Don’t cheat. The amount of ice water necessary changes according to the temperature and humidity inside and out. The warmer and more humid it is, the less ice water you’ll need.
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