The Portuguese had vast worldwide connections opened trade with Japan. Among the many they introduced to Japan was this squash. The Japanese asked the Portuguese the name of this vegetable, and the Portuguese answered Kampuchea (Cambodia) where it was from. The Japanese heard “kabocha,” and so this mis-named vegetable found its way into the language and cuisine of Japan.
It’s finally spring, and in Japan young bamboo shoots are included in meals as a symbol of the new season. Here in Michigan, I have not yet seen any fresh bamboo shoots in the Asian stores near home, but parboiled bamboo shoots, sealed in heavy plastic are available most of the time. The bamboo shoots I usually see are cone shaped, about 3″ in circumference and 4″ to 6″ long. They have a very elegant inside geometry that you would never guess if you have used only the canned ones available in most U.S. supermarkets. So what are these?