Tester Update 12/14:
I’ve reworked this recipe. If you signed up to make it but haven’t yet, please proceed with these new directions.
Kobucha Pumpkin Panko Cutlets (Kobucha Katsu)
Makes 8 cutlets
Kobucha pumpkin cutlets covered in crispy panko are a perfect comfort food any time of year, but especially in cool weather months. Traditionally kobucha croquettes like are fried, but they can be baked with tasty results. Enjoy them served like Tempeh Panko Cutlets with Tonkatsu sauce and shredded cabbage, or try the curry variation served with a simple lemon soy sauce dip.
Tip: Look for pre-cut chunks of kobucha pumpkin in Asian markets. Kobucha pumpkin is considerably drier and starchier than American pumpkin varieties, so I don’t recommend substituting watery pie-type American pumpkins.
- 1 pound of kobucha pumpkin
- 1/2 pound white potato
- 1/2 cup finely minced white onion
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/2 inch cube fresh ginger, peeled and finely minced
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 2 tablespoons mirin cooking wine
- 3 tablespoons cornstarch
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1/4 teaspoon ground white pepper
- 1 cup panko bread crumbs
- 2 tablespoons grape seed oil or other light vegetable oil
- Cooking spray
1. Use a metal tablespoon to scoop out and discard squash seeds, then use a Y-shaped vegetable peeler to remove as much of the green outer skin as possible (a small shred here or there is okay). Dice into 1 inch cubes. Peel and dice potatoes into 1 inch cubes, and place pumpkin and potato into a large soup pot. Cover with 3 inches of cold water, cover the pot and bring to a rolling boil over high heat. Cook until the potato is tender and easily pierced with a fork, about 12-14 minutes. Drain vegetables and place in large mixing bowl.
2. While the pumpkin and potato are cooking, in a small skillet over medium heat saute the onion, garlic, and ginger with the vegetable oil for 4 minutes or until the onion is soft and translucent. Remove from heat and set aside.
2. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Sprinkle sake over squash and use a potato masher to mash together the squash and pumpkin until a creamy mixture forms. Add mirin, cornstarch, salt, nutmeg, and white pepper and use a rubber spatula or wooden spoon to thoroughly mix in; taste the mixture and add more salt if needed. Stir in the cooked onion mixture, cover the bowl with plastic wrap and transfer to the refrigerator. Chill until mixture is firm and cool enough to handle, about 20 minutes. Or prepare this mixture the day before and keep chilled until ready to bake.
3. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. In a pie plate or large diner plate pour in panko crumbles and sprinkle with grape seed oil. Use your fingers to rub the oil into the crumbs. Scoop a rounded 1/4 cup of filling into your palms and pat the mixture into an oval shape 1/2 inch thick. Coat generously with panko crumbs, piling the crumbs over the cutlet and pressing gently but firmly into the cutlet. Move to the baking sheet and repeat with remaining cutlets. Spray with cooking spray and bake for 15 minutes, then remove from oven and flip cutlets over. Spray other side with cooking spray and bake for 10 to 12 minutes or until crumbs are golden brown. Serve hot with lemon wedges, shredded green cabbage and Tonkatsu Sauce.
Curry Corn Pumpkin Slices
Add 1 1/2 teaspoons mild or hot Madras-style curry powder plus 1 cup fresh corn kernels to the pumpkin dough along with the salt and other spices; knead thoroughly until the curry powder is evenly distributed.
Serve these cutlets with a sauce of 3 tablespoons shoyu soy sauce stirred with 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice.