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.
Just when I thought I would go through a whole year for the first time without catching a cold, the ruthless germs finally got a hold of me. As my throat continues to swell and make my life miserable, there’s one thing on my mind…”juk,” or Korean porridge. 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 “Danhobak Juk” or Korean pumpkin porridge. It’s essentially a 2 ingredient recipe, as I presume you already have honey and 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.
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.
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. Thanks, Mom, for teaching me this trick ^_^.
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. Sweet rice flour that’s been mixed with water to create a slurry is added to the pot, and you should immediately see the contents thicken. While the porridge continues to simmer, it’s time to make the rice cake balls. 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.
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 1/2 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. 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.
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. Kabocha porridge can be enjoyed either hot or cold, but you know how I will be eating it all throughout the week to soothe my aching throat ;).
I hope I’ve convinced you of how delicious and easy this porridge is to prepare, and I sure do hope you’ll give this recipe a try!
Korean Pumpkin Porridge with Rice Cake Balls
- 1 kabocha about 2-3 lbs.
- 4 cups water
- 1/3 cup sweet rice flour + 1 cup water
- 2 Tbs honey or maple syrup adjust to liking
- 1/4 tsp salt
For rice cake balls (makes about 40)
- ¾ cup sweet rice flour
- ½ cup hot water
- ¼ tsp 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.
- 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 1/3 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.