Mock Pumpkin Pie (Kabocha Custard Pie)

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Pumpkins as we Americans know them are not easily available in Japan. Even butternut squash, which is the basis for most canned pumpkin, isn't in supermarkets, and its canned form is rare. But it is possible to satisfy a holiday desire for pumpkin pie with Japanese pumpkin, kabocha.

In most supermarkets, kabocha comes in quarters neatly plastic wrapped. Even though they are relatively small for squash, a whole kabocha is more than most families need. When you are choosing your pieces, pick ones with lots of flesh and not too many seeds.

Mock Pumpkin Pie (Kabocha Custard Pie)
makes 2 pies

3 "quarter cuts" of kabocha
1 can evaporated milk (420 ml)
60 ml milk*
3/4 cup honey or 1 c sugar**
1.5 t cinnamon
1 t clove
1 t nutmeg or allspice
1/2 t ginger
1/2 t salt
4 eggs

First you need to turn the raw pumpkin into mashed pumpkin. Remove the seeds and prepare to cook. I steamed mine for about 30 minutes until I could easily stick a fork in it. If you don't have a steamer, you could boil, bake or microwave the kabocha.

After it cooled a bit, I peeled/pried off the black skin in pieces. The orange flesh mashed up beautifully with the testing fork and made about 3 cups of kabocha.

Put the mashed kabocha and all the other ingredients in a powerful blender or use your mixing tool of choice. Blend until perfectly smooth. Taste and adjust seasoning as desired.

Pour into buttered pie plates or ramekins. Or pour over pie shells if you prefer. Bake at 210/400 for 10 minutes, then lower the heat to 170/350 and continue baking for about 40 minutes or until the pie is puffed and slightly cracked and a knife inserted comes out clean. If you are using deep dishes, you may need to bake up to an hour.

*You want a total of 480ml of liquid. Any ratio is ok, but more evaporated milk makes a slightly richer custard.

**A mix of honey and sugar works well, too.

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