I have been obsessed with making this Japanese Style Kabocha Squash Hot Pot for the past few weeks. I truly cannot get enough of it. It’s rich and satisfying, yet light and flavorful. It’s a perfect dish for fall, or anytime you need a warm, comforting meal in minutes.


  • Kabocha squash – Probably my favorite squash to cook and eat, kabocha is sweet and creamy, and is just as amazing when simmered or steamed as it is when baked or roasted. It’s the perfect squash for a hot pot because you can leave the skin on, which helps hold the squash together when it’s perfectly cooked. You could sub in a butternut squash, just make sure to buy an organic one so you can leave the skin on.
  • Water or vegetable broth – The simmering liquid is very important to this hot pot not only because it’s a major part of the eating experience, but also because it’s responsible for seasoning all of the other components of the dish. Use water and a vegan bouillon, or use your favorite vegetable broth. Just make sure that whatever liquid you use is well seasoned so that it brings up the flavors of the other hot pot ingredients instead of watering them down.
  • Vegan bouillon or mushroom broth powder – If you use a good vegetable broth, you don’t need a bouillon, but I always keep a few different types on had just for such a purpose. My favorites are the No Chicken flavor of Better Than Bouillon, of these mushroom broth granules that I find at Asian markets. 
  • Bragg’s Liquid Aminos – I don’t remember the last time I actually purchased “soy sauce”. At this point, I just prefer and I am just more familiar with the milder flavor of Bragg’s. So, anytime you see Bragg’s Liquid Aminos in one of my recipes, feel free to substitute-in whatever low-sodium soy sauce or tamari you have on hand. Just know that my recipes are not tested using a “full-sodium” soy sauce, so if you do want to use one in this recipe, you’ll have to adjust a bit for the increased salinity.
  • Green onions – This dish calls for both the white and green parts of a green onion. The white part gets simmered and helps to season the broth, while the green parts get steamed and help to season the tofu. If you don’t have a green onion, you can just substitute in whatever onion you have. 
  • Cremini mushrooms – For their meaty texture and umami flavor, mushrooms are great in this hot pot. Pretty much any mushroom will work, even dried. 
  • Silken tofu – This dish is a perfect example of how incredible silken tofu can be. The tofu is not trying to be something else; it’s being embraced for its silky, creamy texture. I prefer a firm or extra firm silken tofu (or Nigari if you can find it), but you can pretty much sub-in whatever tofu you like or happen to have on hand.
  • Kale – A hearty green like kale is great for this dish because it can be put in with the rest of the hot pot ingredients, and it holds up to the 15 minutes of steaming required to make this dish. You could use spinach, but I would recommend adding the spinach at the very end of cooking, just before serving. 
  • Toasted sesame oil – For that extra layer of smoky nuttiness, add a drizzle of toasted sesame oil to the top of the kale before simmering. If you’re oil-free, just skip it.
  • Toasted sesame seeds – For both flavor and texture, sesame seeds are a necessity in this dish. 
  • 2 quart pot with lid – In total, this recipe fills up a two quart pot to the brim. If you have a slightly bigger pot, use it. Just make sure to adjust the water or broth so that the mushrooms and squash are submerged, but the tofu is sitting on top so that it can steam.

 Japanese Style Kabocha Squash Hot Pot

Quick and Easy Japanese Style Kabocha Squash Hot Pot
Prep Time
10 mins
Cook Time
15 mins

A delicious and hearty Japanese style hot pot literally overflowing with delicious kabocha squash.

Course: Main Course, Soup
Cuisine: Japanese
Servings: 2
Author: Michael Monson
  • ½ medium-sized kabocha squash, cleaned, seeded, and cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 2 cups water or vegetable broth (or more as needed)
  • 2 teaspoons vegan bouillon or mushroom broth powder (enough to make 2 cups)
  • 2 tablespoons Bragg’s Liquid Aminos or low sodium soy sauce
  • 2 green onions, green and white parts separated
  • 4 to 5 cremini mushrooms, cleaned and thinly sliced
  • 10 to 12 ounces firm or extra firm silken tofu
  • 1 to 2 cups kale, stemmed and roughly chopped
  • 1 to 2 teaspoons sesame oil
  • toasted sesame seeds
  • salt and pepper to taste
To prepare the squash:
  1. Clean the outside of your squash. Insert a sharp knife into the top of the kabocha near the stem end. Carefully push your knife down and cut through one side of the squash. Insert your knife into the opposite side of the stem, and cut the other side in the same manner. Remove your knife, and break your squash into two halves.
  2. Scrape out the seeds of both halves, but then tightly wrap one of the halves to save it for another recipe… such at my Smoky Squash and Chickpea Soup (;ink in notes)

  3. Just keep thinking about halving as you continue to cut your squash. Cut the half in half. Then cut those halves in half. Continue to cut the wedges of squash in half until you’re left with about 8, 1 inch thick wedges. Cut each thin wedge into 1 inch thick pieces.
To assemble the hot pot:
  1. To a 2 quart pot, add your water or broth, and then dissolve the bouillon or mushroom broth powder into it. Taste for seasoning, making sure you have a very flavorful broth that is powerful enough to season all of the squash that will be simmered in it. Add salt and pepper as needed.
  2. Add as much squash as you can to the broth, making sure there’s about 1 inch remaining at the top of the pot. Stir in mushrooms.Thinly slice the white parts of your green onions, and then cut the green parts into inch-long pieces. Stir the white parts in with the squash and mushrooms. Sprinkle the green parts on top.
  3. Open your silken tofu, and slice it into about 6 thin slabs. Arrange the tofu in a single layer on top of the green onions. Rip up your kale into bite-sized pieces, and distribute it evenly across the surface of the tofu. Drizzle the top with sesame oil and sprinkle with sesame seeds.
  4. Your pot will be very full; practically overflowing.
  5. Put the lid on and turn the heat up to high. When the broth comes to a boil and steam is steadily escaping the pot, immediately turn the heat down to low, and allow your hot pot to gently simmer for 10 to 15 minutes. Your hot pot is done when your squash is fork tender.
  6. Using a ladle, scoop a bit of everything out of the pot, being generous with the broth. Serve with more sesame seeds, and hot sauce of choice.
Serving Suggestions:
  1. I love this hot pot just as is, served with a bit of vinegar-based hot sauce on the side. You could also make this dish into a ramen-style soup by cooking soba or udon noodles separately, and serving them alongside your hot pot.