This vegan, gluten free Korean pumpkin porridge (hobakjuk) is super easy to make and is the perfect comfort food that can be enjoyed cold or hot. If you're looking for a healthy porridge recipe for your baby, give this one a try!
Juk,” or Korean porridge is the ultimate comfort food during an illness. There are tons of varieties, and I love them all. I would gladly eat bowl after bowl any day even if I wasn't sick. Since it’s fall, I thought I’d share with you one of my top 3 juks, the “hobakJuk” or Korean pumpkin porridge.
This porridge, along with miyeokgook or Korean seaweed soup, is oftentimes served to moms after delivery (or any surgeries) to help reduce puffiness.
It’s essentially a 3 ingredient recipe, as I presume you already have salt in your pantry. You will need kabocha, more commonly known as Japanese pumpkin, and sweet rice flour. Adding the rice cake balls is optional, but if you like playing with dough or being in the kitchen with your children, it might be a fun endeavor for you.
What is Kabocha?
Kabocha is without a doubt my favorite winter squash. It tastes like a cross between a sweet potato and a butternut squash and has a slightly nutty, earthy flavor which I absolutely adore.
It is also a great source of beta-carotene, iron, vitamin C, potassium, and fiber.
For this recipe, you can use any orange colored winter squash, like butternut squash or pumpkin. But if you can get your hands on kabocha, I HIGHLY recommend you give it a try!
What is sweet rice flour
It's rice flour ground from short-grain glutinous rice. Unlike what the name suggests, it doesn't contain gluten. It's also not sweet.
Its fine texture makes it a wonderful ingredient for gluten free baked goods and as a thickener for porridge, soups, gravies, etc. It can also be used to make rice noodles and mochi!
How to Make pumpkin porridge
- Cook the kabocha. Its rough and rigid exterior may intimidate you, but have no fear. Simply place it in the microwave for about 8-10 minutes to soften the shell, and you'll be able to slice through it with ease using just a pairing knife.
2. Peel the pumpkin, cube and add to a large pot. While you can use a blender to purée the squash, I like to just mash it as it cooks in water. That's just my preference though, as I don't like my porridge perfectly smooth. The choice is yours!
3. Mix sweet rice flour with water to create a slurry and add to the pot. Stir and you should immediately see the contents thicken.
There's no need to worry about time here. I think the squash tastes better the longer it cooks. However, remember to stir it occasionally to make sure nothing sticks to the bottom.
How to make Rice Dumplings
While the porridge continues to simmer, it's time to make the rice cake balls.
- These rice cake balls couldn't be simpler to make! Pour hot water over sweet rice flour and knead until well incorporated and slightly stretchy.
- Roll into ½ in balls (don't make them too big as they will expand when added to the cooking porridge). Be sure to keep them under the plastic wrap as you work to prevent them from drying out.
- Before adding the balls into the pot, stir in the honey and salt (see modifications for baby).
- Slowly drop the balls in and cook until they float to the top, about 5 minutes. Don't overcook as chewy, not mushy, is the goal.
How to Modify for Babies
If your baby is just starting solids and you feel more doing purees (rather than baby led weaning) then cook the pumpkin and blend with water until completely smooth. Then add to the pot and follow the rest of the recipe instructions.
But remember! You don't want to stay in the thin puree stage for too long. As soon as you feel confident, you can try keeping the pumpkin on the chunkier side.
The recipe calls for honey or maple syrup. Super important - DO NOT offer honey to babies under 12 months of age as it can cause botulism.
Also the recommendation for added sugars is to avoid until 2 years of age. Having said that, the recipe calls for 2 tablespoons and your baby will eat a small portion of the porridge at a time so I wouldn't worry too much about it.
Same goes for salt. If you decide to leave both of them out, it will still taste great and I have a feeling your baby will love it ;).
Usually the porridge is topped with azuki beans, but I really like the addition of walnuts as it provides a nice textural difference as well as adds to the inherent nuttiness of the squash.
You can also add pumpkin seeds, or other nuts. Pine nuts will be really delicious too!
Store in an airtight container for 5-7 days or freeze for up to 3 months. This pumpkin porridge can be enjoyed either hot or cold.
Winter Squash Recipes
- Roasted butternut squash with turkey stuffing
- Roasted miso and pumpkin spiced kabocha
- Butternut squash red curry
- Butternut squash gratin
- Spaghetti squash chicken lasagna
Did you make this baby and toddler-friendly Korean pumpkin porridge? Follow me on Instagram post a photo and tag me, post a photo on my Facebook page, or save it to Pinterest. I love to see what you're making!
Korean Pumpkin Porridge with Rice Dumplings
- 1 kabocha about 2-3 lbs.
- 4 cups water
- ⅓ cup sweet rice flour + 1 cup water
- 2 Tbs honey or maple syrup (omit for babies under 1) adjust to liking
- ¼ teaspoon salt
For rice dumplings (makes about 40)
- ¾ cup sweet rice flour
- ½ cup hot water
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- Wash kabocha, wipe dry, and cook in microwave for about 5-10 minutes until exterior softened. When cooled, cut it in half and remove seeds and strings with a spoon. Using a pairing knife, peel the skin. Cube the squash and place in a large pot. Mash it with a spoon or masher (See note).
- Add 4 cups of water and bring pot to a boil. Lower heat and continue to stir and mash chunks of squash until smooth, about 25-30 minutes.
- In a small bowl, stir together ⅓ cup sweet rice flour with 1 cup of water. Pour mixture into the pot, quickly stirring to prevent lumps from forming. The porridge will start to thicken very quickly.
- Bring the contents of the pot to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer, stirring occasionally (make sure to scrape the bottom), about 10 minutes. Adjust consistency to your liking by adding more water if too thick.
- While the porridge is simmering, prepare the rice cake balls. Mix all the ingredients and knead until nice and stretchy. Shape into ½ in balls. *
- Add honey and salt to pot and stir in. Add rice cake balls and cook for about 5 minutes, stirring often to prevent them from sticking to the bottom. When cooked, the balls will float to the top.
- Turn off heat and season with more salt and honey if desired.
- If your baby is just starting solids and you feel more doing purees (rather than baby led weaning) then cook the pumpkin and blend with water until completely smooth. Then add to the pot and follow the rest of the recipe instructions.
- Super important - DO NOT offer honey to babies under 12 months of age.
- The recommendation for added sugars is to avoid until 2 years of age. Having said that, the recipe calls for 2 tablespoons and your baby will eat a small portion of the porridge at a time so I wouldn't worry too much about it.
- Same goes for salt. If you decide to leave both of them out, it will still taste great and I have a feeling your baby will love it ;).