Open Sesame! Sesame-Roasted Kabocha

開けゴマ (hirake goma): open sesame!

Sesame oil is my new favorite cooking oil. It’s high in antioxidants and, as a result, has a long shelf life. As friend once said, the flavor of Japan is sesame oil, and I use it whenever I’m going for Asian-inspired flavors rather than European (olive oil) or neutral (grapeseed oil).

Sesame suits Japanese vegetables well and is a lovely complement to kabocha, a sweet orange squash. I hadn’t considered it as an oil for roasting vegetables before, but it’s perfect for this simple dish.

If you chop the kabocha ahead of time, this is a easy side-dish to have in the oven or oven range while you make Komatsuna and Chicken Stir-Fry, which also uses sesame oil.

Sesame-Roasted Kabocha

Serves 2-3 as a side dish.


¼ of a kabocha (かぼちゃ、南瓜)

1-2 Tablespoons sesame oil (goma abura, ごま油)

Salt and pepper, to taste (shio, 塩; koshou, 胡椒)

Optional: Sesame seeds (irigoma, いりゴマ)

Variations: try sage (seiji, セージ), thyme (taimu, タイム), or herbs de Provence (furenchi haabu, フレンチハーブ), to taste; may also use olive oil (oriibu oiru, オリーブオイル) instead of sesame oil.


A pan for roasting (oven-safe glass or a sturdy metal pan)


  1. Preheat the oven to 210 C (400 F).
  2. Wash the kabocha skin well. Leave the skin on. Scoop out the seeds and stringy bits.
  3. Cut the piece in half horizontally, and slice vertically into slivers about 1 cm thick. (See picture below.)
  4. Toss the kabocha with the sesame oil, salt, pepper, and seeds (or spices) and arrange in a single layer in the roasting pan.
  5. Roast for 20-30 minutes, until the kabocha is tender and lightly browned.
Cutting up a kabocha.

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