side dish

Kabocha Pumpkin Meatballs with Rice Flour


Adjust the amount of rice flour to be added to the kabocha puree depending on the consistency of the dough. The filling can be made ahead of time and frozen, so it will be easy to wrap around with the dough. The sauce is mild and smooth that helps these meatballs go down the throat easily, particularly for the elderly.

  • Rice flour is used as a binding agent to make the kabocha pumpkin dough. It also adds the moisture and a slightly mochi-like texture to the dough.

  • All rice flour is naturally gluten-free. Make this dish completely gluten-free by using gluten-free substitutes for other ingredients as needed.

  • Japanese ingredients such as dried mushrooms, miso, dashi, mirin, and sake Japanese rice wine can be purchased online or at Asian grocery stores.


4 servings



For the dough

9oz/250g kabocha pumpkin or pumpkin puree (about 1 cup)

½ cup (90g) rice flour

For the filling

¼ (60g) onion, minced (about ¼ cup)

3 dried shiitake mushrooms, soaked in water and minced

5oz/150g ground beef

Vegetable oil as needed

2 teaspoons (12g) miso

2 teaspoons (8g) sugar

2 teaspoons (12ml) soy sauce

2 teaspoons (12ml) mirin

2 teaspoons (10ml) sake Japanese rice wine

2 tablespoons (24g) potato starch

¼ cup (60ml) water

For the sauce

⅔ cup (160ml) water to make dashi broth

½ teaspoon (1.5g) dashi powder

1 tablespoon (18ml) soy sauce

1⅓ tablespoons (20ml) mirin

½ teaspoon (3g) salt

2 teaspoons (8g) potato starch

1 tablespoon (15ml) water to be mixed with potato starch

Green onions for garnish

Kaiware radish sprouts (optional)


  1. For the dough

    Remove the seeds and skin from the kabocha pumpkin. Cook in the microwave for 4 minutes. Mash with a back of a fork. Cool and mix with rice flour. Set aside.

  2. For the filling

    Heat the oil on a skillet over medium high heat and sauté the onions. Add the mushrooms and ground beef. When cooked thoroughly, add miso, sugar, soy sauce, mirin and sake. Simmer until most of the liquid has evaporated.

  3. In a small bowl, combine potato starch and water, and add to the meat mixture. When it has thickened, set aside to cool. If preparing in advance, freeze the filling in 2-3 portions, tightly wrapped.

  4. Boil the steamer.

  5. Using a spoon, take a golf ball sized portion of the kabocha puree in hand. Flatten it and place a spoonful of the filling in the center. Seal tightly on the top and tuck in the seam. Form a smooth ball and place them on a heat-proof dish. Repeat. Cover with plastic wrap.

  6. Steam the pumpkin meatballs for 15 minutes.

  7. For the sauce

    In a saucepan, combine water, dashi powder, soy sauce, and mirin. Bring to a boil. In a small bowl, combine potato starch with water. Add to the sauce. Simmer until the sauce thickens.

  8. Plate the meatballs in individual bowls. Pour the sauce and garnish with green onions and kaiware radish sprouts (optional). Serve.


  • This recipe uses US customary units. Measurement equivalents include: 1 teaspoon = 5ml, 1 tablespoon = 15ml, and 1 US cup = 237ml or 8fl oz. (1 metric cup = 250ml or 8.5fl oz.)
  • The cooking time using microwave oven in this recipe is based on 1,000W in the US.
  • The temperature and baking time may be different depending on the oven used. Please adjust accordingly.
  • All rice flour is naturally gluten-free. Make this dish completely gluten-free by using gluten-free substitutes for other ingredients as needed.