Kabocha Korokke: Japanese Pumpkin Croquette

Kabocha Korokke: Japanese Pumpkin Croquette

The Spruce / Christine Ma

Prep: 60 mins
Cook: 20 mins
Total: 80 mins
Servings: 4 to 6 servings
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
239 Calories
8g Fat
35g Carbs
7g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 4 to 6
Amount per serving
Calories 239
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 8g 10%
Saturated Fat 1g 7%
Cholesterol 31mg 10%
Sodium 376mg 16%
Total Carbohydrate 35g 13%
Dietary Fiber 3g 10%
Total Sugars 5g
Protein 7g
Vitamin C 4mg 20%
Calcium 92mg 7%
Iron 3mg 14%
Potassium 287mg 6%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

Kaboccha, a Japanese winter pumpkin (squash), is a staple in Japanese cuisine. It appears in many different dishes, but a favorite way to enjoy kaboccha is as a croquette, which in Japanese is called a korokke. Traditional Japanese korokke is made with potatoes and is often mixed with ingredients such as ground beef, onions, corn, or other vegetables, or curry seasoning. 

Kaboccha korokke is made entirely of kaboccha and, in the case of this recipe, yellow onions. It is seasoned simply with salt and pepper yet is bursting with flavor. The korokke are breaded in panko crumbs and then fried. They can be enjoyed as is or dipped in a simple tonkatsu-style sauce.

Ingredients

  • Cooking spray

  • 1 pound Japanese kabocha  squash

  • 1 to 2 teaspoons olive oil

  • Salt, to taste

  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

  • 1 small yellow onion

  • 1/2 tablespoon unsalted butter, or olive oil

  • 2 tablespoons low-fat milk, divided

  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour

  • 1 large egg

  • 2 cups panko breadcrumbs

  • Canola oil, for frying

  • Ketchup mixed with okonomiyaki or tonkatsu sauce, for dipping, optional

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Kabocha Korokke: Japanese Pumpkin Croquette ingredients

    The Spruce / Christine Ma

  2. Preheat oven to 400 F. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and spray with cooking spray.

    greased aluminum foil lined baking sheet

    The Spruce / Christine Ma

  3. Wash kabocha, cut in half, remove seeds, and cut wedges.

    Wash kabocha, cut in half, remove seeds, and cut wedges

    The Spruce / Christine Ma

  4. Lay kabocha wedges on prepared baking sheet, lightly drizzle with olive oil, and gently season with salt and pepper.

    Lay kabocha wedges on prepared baking sheet

    The Spruce / Christine Ma

  5. Bake for 45 minutes or until tender. Allow kabocha to cool.

    baked kobocha on a baking sheet

    The Spruce / Christine Ma

  6. Meanwhile, finely dice onion. Heat butter in a skillet and sauté onion until browned. Set aside.

    onions cooking in a skillet

    The Spruce / Christine Ma

  7. Once kabocha has cooled, scoop out the flesh of squash into a bowl. Discard the rind.

    sliced baked kabocha in a bowl

    The Spruce / Christine Ma

  8. Add sautéed onions to the bowl and mash together with kabocha using a potato masher.

    mashed kabocha and onion mixture in a bowl

    The Spruce / Christine Ma

  9. Gently season with salt and pepper to taste. (Be sure to season with enough salt so that the korokke is sufficiently seasoned to eat as is.)

    mashed kabocha mixture in a bowl

    The Spruce / Christine Ma

  10. Add 1 tablespoon of milk and incorporate. Place kabocha mixture in the refrigerator to cool completely.

    milk and kabocha mixture in a bowl

    The Spruce / Christine Ma

  11. Roll cooled kabocha mixture into balls the size of walnuts and put on a plate.

    Roll cooled kabocha mixture into balls

    The Spruce / Christine Ma

  12. Place flour in one small deep dish and season with a dash of salt and pepper. Combine the egg and about 1 tablespoon milk in a second small deep dish, and the panko breadcrumbs in a third deep dish.

    bowls with flour mixture, egg mixture and breadcrumb mixture

    The Spruce / Christine Ma

  13. Dip the kabocha balls in flour, next in the egg wash mixture, and then coat with panko breadcrumbs. Place on a plate.

    breaded kabocha balls

    The Spruce / Christine Ma

  14. Heat canola oil in a medium pan to a temperature of 375 F.

    pot with oil, thermometer

    The Spruce / Christine Ma

  15. Fry about 6 kabocha korokke at a time, 1 to 2 minutes on each side until golden brown.

    Kabocha Korokke: Japanese Pumpkin Croquette frying in a pot with oil

    The Spruce / Christine Ma

  16. Remove kabocha korokke to a plate lined with paper towels to cool. Serve with dipping sauce, if desired.

    Kabocha Korokke: Japanese Pumpkin Croquette on a paper towel lined plate

    The Spruce / Christine Ma

Tips

  • When rolling the kabocha korokke into balls, working with cold kabocha mixture is slightly easier than working while the mashed squash is warm. The mixture will still be very soft and a little challenging to shape into a ball, but it is definitely better than working with warm squash.
  • When deep-frying food, it's important that the oil temperature is just right. If you don't have a deep-fry thermometer, toss in a piece of panko breadcrumb—if it quickly sizzles and floats to the top, your oil is ready.
  • Once the korroke are fried, make sure to place on a paper towel-lined plate; cooling on a wire rack won't work as these korokke are soft.

Dipping Sauce

A common dipping sauce for the kabocha korokke is a combination of equal parts bottled okonomiyaki sauce or tonkatsu sauce and ketchup. Okonomiyaki sauce is slightly sweeter than tonkatsu sauce, but the two can be used interchangeably for this recipe depending on what you have in stock or your preference in taste. Alternatively, you can simply drizzle tonkatsu sauce over the kabocha korokke, or you can eat them plain without any sauce at all; they taste perfect on their own.