This version of hobakjuk, a Korean porridge made with pumpkins or squashes, is all about texture. Velvety pumpkin puree is mixed with tender azuki beans, chewy sweet rice balls, and crunchy pine nuts. And because everyone knows that pumpkins and spices go hand-in-hand, a light dusting of ground cinnamon ties everything together.
I’m just a bit confused whether hobakjuk should be served as a dessert or as a savory soup. At first glance, it seems like a dessert because it is lightly sweetened. The author then suggests serving the porridge with canisters of salt and pepper, tilting the porridge back to the middle of the sweet-savory scale.
In any case, you don’t have to be Korean to like hobakjuk. Unlike kimchi, this pumpkin porridge will seem instantly familiar even to the most unadventurous of palates. It may necessitate a visit to an Asian grocery store, risking life and limb because the possibility of slipping on errant grains of rice on aisle 7 exists, but try this recipe while pumpkins are in season and you’ll end up saving the pie for later. Much later.
recipe adapted from Hi Soo Shin Hepinstall’s Growing Up in a Korean Kitchen
A Worldly Epicurean’s Delight: Korean hosted by PJ
Korean Pumpkin / Winter Squash Porridge
makes 4 to 5 servings
Roasted pumpkin halves.
1/2 cup dried azuki / red beans
1 pumpkin, about 2 to 3 pounds, about the size of a cantaloupe
3/4 cups granulated sugar or honey
2 tablespoons sweet rice flour
16 sweet rice balls
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon pine nuts
salt and pepper, to taste (optional)
- Use any winter squash varietal in place of the pumpkin. You can’t go wrong with butternut squash, so watch Maangchi make it with a pink wig.
- The original recipe calls for boiling the pumpkin but I prefer oven-roasting — the dry heat will give the pumpkin a much deeper flavor.
- Sweet rice flour is also known as glutinous rice flour or mochiko.
- Not recommended, but substitute 2 to 3 cups of canned pumpkin puree if you’re feeling lazy.
To Cook the Azuki / Red Beans:
Add the azuki beans to a pot filled with water and bring to a boil over high heat. Strain the beans and discard the boiling liquid. Return the beans to the pot and add enough water to cover. Bring to a boil and lower the heat to maintain a gentle simmer.
Cook the azuki beans for about 45 minutes, or until tender. The beans should still be firm but thoroughly cooked.
To Roast the Pumpkin:
Preheat the oven to 350ºF/180ºC. Cut the pumpkin in half and scoop out the pulp and seeds. Roast the pumpkin halves for about 45 minutes to 1 hour, or until tender.
To Cook the Pumpkin Porridge:
Scoop out the roasted pumpkin and mash with a fork. Dissolve the sweet rice flour in about 1/2 cup of water. In a medium saucepan, mix together the roasted pumpkin flesh and sweet rice flour mixture. Stir frequently over low heat for about 15 minutes, until slightly thickened.
Adjust the pumpkin porridge to the desired consistency by adding water or reducing over low heat.
Too thick? Too thin? Just right?
Serve warm in shallow bowls. Top with sweet rice balls, cooked azuki beans, pine nuts, and ground cinnamon. Season lightly with salt and freshly ground pepper if desired.