Hobakjuk (Pumpkin Porridge with Rice Dumplings)
I have a habit I need to break.
I buy way too much of foods that I love – unreasonably too much. I love kabocha pumpkins. And the last time I went to Whole Foods, organic kabochas were on sale. I can’t pass that up right? So I bought the biggest kabocha they had in stock and a smaller one – 12+ pounds in total. When I bought them I felt so good that I whistled all they way home despite the pain in my shoulder from lugging the heavy load. Not too much, I figured. It’s just the two of us, but half of it will be seeds that I will discard right?
I steamed the kabochas. They were unbelievably good. I love the sweetness and the drier texture of a kabocha. It’s like eating chestnuts. Believe it or not, we finished close to half of it on the first sitting. But what to do with the leftovers…
So many possibilities, but I decided to make hobakjuk, pumpkin porridge. It is a simple and delicious porridge with chewy homemade rice dumplings/cakes in it. Besides, what’s more Fall than a hearty pumpkin soup or porridge?
If you have any cooked pumpkins or sweet squashes left over from a meal (hopefully not as much as I did), this is an easy way to make good and tasty use of them!
I’ll be spending the next few weeks with my family. We haven’t had a gathering in over a year. I’m so looking forward to seeing my nieces, nephews, mom, et al. I hope you too are keeping warm, eating good food, and are surrounded by loved ones.
Hobakjuk (Pumpkin Porridge with Rice Dumplings) Recipe
Makes 4 servings as an appetizer
1 1/4 lb. kabocha pumpkin (weight measured without seeds and peeled)
1/3 cup sweet rice flour or glutinous rice flour
4 cups + 1 cup filtered water
1/2 tsp salt
1 TB brown sugar
20-25 (1/2-inch) rice dumplings (recipe follows immediately)
toasted pumpkin seeds: optional
salt to taste
- Place kabocha pieces on a steamer. Steam for 20 minutes. Let it cool. Add the steamed kabocha to a blender. Add 2 cups of water to the blender. Secure the lid and process until it is puréed. Pour the purée into a pot. Add 2 more cups of water to the blender and swirl to get the last bits of kabocha stuck to the container. Pour the contents into the same pot.
- Place the pot over high heat and bring it to a boil. Stir. Lower the heat to medium once the pumpkin mixture comes to a boil.
- In a small bowl, stir together 1/3 cup sweet rice flour with 1 cup of water. Stir in the flour+water mixture into the pot of pumpkin mixture. STIR well to prevent lumps from forming. The contents should thicken up right away. Bring it to a boil. Once it comes to a boil, lower the heat and let it simmer for 10 minutes. Stir to make sure nothing is sticking to the bottom. Add water if it gets too thick.
- Stir in brown sugar and salt. Add the rice balls to the pot, let it cook for about 5 minutes on low boil. Don’t overcook; the rice balls will become mushy. Rice balls should be cooked through and chewy (kind of like mochi).
- Remove from heat and serve. Salt to taste. Taste test first before adding additional salt. Pumpkin seeds and additional brown sugar can be added if desired.
- Combine rice flour, water, and salt. Knead until you achieve a dough with the consistency of soft play-doh.
- Form dough into 1/2-inch balls. The dough should yield about 20-25 balls.
Rice Dumplings Recipe
1/2 cup sweet rice flour (glutinous rice flour)
3 TB warm water + more if necessary
1/4 tsp salt