Today’s recipe is for hobakjuk, pumpkin porridge. Sweet, smooth, and comforting, with chewy rice cake balls. Hobakjuk is very popular in Korea in the late fall and winter, and my version is a bit of an upscale version because I stuff some of the rice cake balls with pine nuts and I make a pretty flower garnish with persimmon, jujube, and pumpkin seeds.
In the fall my grandmother used to harvest Korean pumpkins from her backyard and store them in her pantry for the winter. They were large, round, short, and tan, about 12 to 15 inches in diameter. Whenever she wanted to make hobakjuk she would take one out and make porridge with it.
These days in New York City, I can never find Korean pumpkins, but I figured out how to make hobakjuk with other kinds of squash like butternut squash and kabocha (danhobak in Korean). When I went to the market, this wonderful pumpkin really stood out. There were a lot of pumpkins there, but this one was the largest, most beautiful, and perfect. After one month it got some freckles and I decided to make hobakjuk with it and film this video. I brought a backup kabocha in case the pumpkin was not good inside, but it turned out delicious!
Hope you enjoy this recipe, and try making hobakjuk with whatever squash is available to you! It’s just a few simple ingredients, but they will make you and your family feel warm and cozy!
- 1 pound pumpkin (butternut squash, kabocha, or any sweet squash with an orange color)
- ½ cup fresh beans, or dried and soaked beans
- 1¼ cup glutinous rice flour (aka sweet rice flour)
- ½ cup hot water
- kosher salt
- 2 tablespoons pine nuts
For garnish (optional)
- 1 large dried jujube
- 1 dried persimmon
- a few of shelled pumpkin seeds
- Put the pumpkin into a heavy pot, add 3 cups of water and cover. Cook for 15 minutes over medium high heat.
- Open, add the beans and cover. Cook another 15 minutes, until it’s soft enough to be scoopable and the beans are cooked. If everything is still hard, cook a little longer. You may have to add more water.
- Let it cool down.
Prepare the dough:
- Get a large and a small bowl. In the larger one add 1 cup glutinous rice flour and ¼ teaspoon kosher salt. We’ll use this to make our rice balls.
- In the smaller one add ¼ cup glutinous rice flour and a pinch of salt. We’ll use this as a reserve for dusting and to make the porridge thicker and stickier later.
- Add hot water to the large bowl. Mix it up with a wooden spoon. When it’s cool enough to handle by hand, knead it until you make a lump of smooth and soft dough, about 1 minute. Put the dough in a plastic bag and set aside for 10 minutes.
Make rice cake balls:
- Use about 1 tablespoon from the small bowl to dust your cutting board.
- Divide the lump of dough into 2 workable portions. While you’re working with the first portion, cover the other with plastic wrap so it doesn’t dry out.
- Tear off a small piece of dough about ½ inch in diameter. Push a few pine nuts into the center and roll it between your hands into a ball. Put it on the cutting board and repeat until your pine nuts run out. Then start making plain rice cake balls with no pine nuts, and keep going until you’ve used up both portions of dough. Cover the balls with plastic wrap so they don’t dry out.
Make pumpkin porridge:
- Transfer the cooked pumpkin to a large plate or large bowl. Scoop out the cooked pumpkin flesh with a spoon and put it back into the pot. Discard the skin.
- Mash the pumpkin with a potato masher or a wooden spoon until smooth.
- Add 3 cups of water and cover. Bring it to a boil for about 7 to 8 minutes over medium high heat.
- Add the rice cake balls and stir a few times.
- Add ¼ cup water to the smaller bowl of reserved rice flour. Mix it well with a spoon.
- Put it into the pot, it will make the porridge a little stickier. Stir a few times.
- When all the rice cake balls are floating to the surface, cook another 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Remove from the heat and add ½ teaspoon kosher salt and sugar to your taste.
How to make a jujube-persimmon flower:
If you’d like to make a garnish like I did in the video, here’s how you do it. It’s totally optional.
- Hold a jujube in one hand and your knife vertically in the other. Push the blade into the jujube until you feel it touch the seed. Work your knife around the seed and turn the jujube in your hand until the seed is totally cut out of the fruit. Discard the seed.
- Roll the sliced jujube fruit into the shape of a cylinder and squeeze it tightly in your hand so it sticks together. Cut it crosswise into 1/8 inch thick slices that look like flowers.
- Use your scissors to cut the persimmon along its outer edge to create a thin, 2½ inch long strip.
- Ladle some porridge into an individual bowl and garnish (if you use) with jujube, dried persimmon strip, and green pumpkin seeds. Serve right away with kimchi or water kimchi, or vegetable and fruit water kimchi.
- If you have some leftover, put it into an airtight container and refrigerate up to 1 to 2 days. You can serve it cold or reheat it in a small pan and serve warm.