Red-cooked squash


Our autumn/winter squash season is now in full flow.  These beautiful veg have been looking fab in the boxes lately and now you can also order a large (1.0-1.5kg) locally grown organic squash as an extra.

We have collected an excellent set of squash recipes on our website over recent years. Last autumn we featured a dish which became my favourite of 2021:  Meera Sodha’s squash and borlotti beans tray-bake with tomato and sage. It is utterly delicious.

Here’s another tantalising squash idea. Recipe by Ken Hom and Ching-He Huang from the book Exploring China: A Culinary Adventure. It calls for butternut squash but any robust, orange-fleshed autumn squash would be great. ‘Red-cooked’ in Chinese cuisine refers to “a sauce that uses light and dark soy, sugar and spices (such as star anise) to create a deep reddish-brown braising liquid”.

Complement it with some simple fried rice with onion, peas and mushrooms.


  • 1 medium butternut squash, halved lengthways and peeled (or any orange-fleshed autumn squash)
  • 1 tbsp peanut oil
  • 2.5cm (1in) piece fresh root ginger, peeled and grated
  • 3 star anise
  • 2 cinnamon sticks, about 7.5cm (3in) each
  • 4 tbsp light soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp dark soy sauce
  • 250ml (9fl oz) hot water
  • A pinch of Chinese five-spice powder
  • 1 heaped tbsp brown sugar
  • For the garnish: A small handful of fresh coriander


  1. Scoop out and discard the seeds from the squash and cut the flesh into bite-sized (2.5cm/1in) pieces.
  2. Heat a wok over medium-high heat, then add the peanut oil. Add the ginger, star anise and cinnamon and stir-fry for a few seconds, then add the squash and stir-fry for 1 minute. Season with both soy sauces and stir-fry for 1 minute. Add the hot water and stir to combine.
  3. Cover the wok and cook, stirring occasionally, until the squash is tender – about 10 mins. Add more water if necessary to keep the squash from sticking to the sides of the wok.
  4. Season with the five-spice and brown sugar and toss well. Remove from the heat and stir to combine.
  5. Garnish with the coriander, then serve.