Soften the kabocha by microwaving it on high for 4-5 minutes.
Once it has cooled, cut it open and remove top and bottom stems, seeds, and pith. Cut it into bite-size pieces.
Using a medium saucepan, add the kabocha, dashi, sugar, sake, and soy sauce and bring to a gentle simmer.
Cover with an otoshibuta (or leave partially covered if not using) and cook for 15-20 minutes, or until liquid has reduced by half. If desired, continue cooking for a more concentrated broth.
Use a chopstick to test for doneness. (If you can easily pierce through, it’s done.)
Serve 2-4 pieces per person, top with sesame seeds or oil if desired.
You can reduce the broth all the way for a more concentrated flavor, but I prefer to have a little leftover. Just a few spoonfuls of broth is all you’d need for each serving.
Shave a layer of skin off each piece which helps to infuse each kabocha piece with flavor and makes for a unique presentation style. Visit alldayieat.com/go/bookresources for a video tutorial on how to accomplish this.
For the ultimate flavor in each bite, allow the kabocha to cool down once so that the flavors are fully absorbed or wait until the next day if you’re patient. This is a technique that applies not only to nimono, but also Japanese curry too… Gaman dekiru? (我慢できる? Can you wait?)