Fall is in full swing! The leaves are turning colors, and pumpkins are everywhere. Luckily, I am taking some time off from work this week and simply enjoying this beautiful season. With the weather getting cool, I wanted to make some warm comfort foods for my family. For Koreans, juk (porridge) is a popular comfort food either as a light meal or snack. This variety, hobakjuk (or hobakjook), is made with pumpkin or winter squash and glutinous rice (aka sweet rice). Hobak is a generic term for all types of pumpkins and squash. Hobakjuk is typically made with danhobak (meaning sweet pumpkin/squash), which is known as its Japanese name, kabocha, here in the U.S. Typically, the squash is peeled, cubed and boiled. I find it much easier to cook the squash first and then either scoop out the flesh or peel off the skin. Traditionally, there are two ways to incorporate the sweet rice into this porridge. One is in the form of small rice cake balls made with rice powder, and the other is simply mixing in finely ground soaked rice. I like the consistency of the latter. This beautifully golden-yellow and velvety porridge will surely warm your heart. Not to mention, it’s good for you!
6 – 8 servings
1 danhobak (kabocha), or small pumpkin, about 2 pounds
1/2 cup glutinous rice, soaked in water for at least an hour
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons brown sugar (adjust to your liking)
1/4 cup red beans, soaked and boiled* (optional)
(* or use canned red beans)
Cut the squash into halves (or quarters). Remove the seeds. Place them in a large pot, the cut side up. Add water about one-third way up the squash, about 6 cups. Cover and boil over medium heat until the squash turns fork tender, about 25 – 30 minutes. Discard the water and let the squash cool. (I sometimes cut the squash in halves and bake in the oven, the cut side down, at 400ºF for about 45 – 50 minutes.)
You can purée the cooked squash at this point if you want, using a blender (make sure to use some of the 3 cups of water required below). I usually just mash it with a spoon or potato masher while cooking. I like a little bit of squash lumps in my porridge.
Pour the ground sweet rice into the pot of the prepared squash. Add 3 cups of water. Cook over medium heat, stirring and mashing the chunks of squash, until the rice starts to turn translucent and the porridge becomes thick. Cover, and reduce the heat to low. Continue to simmer, stirring occasionally, for about 20 minutes. (Adjust the consistency of the porridge to your taste by adding more water.) Stir in the salt, sugar, and the optional cooked red beans. Cook for an additional 3 – 4 minutes.
And now, the winners are:
First, I’d like to thank everyone who has taken the time to read and comment on my review of CJ Mini Wontons. It was fun to read your favorite Korean dishes! I know it was rather difficult for you all to pick one, but bibimbap and galbi seem to be among the most popular. Using the randomly generated numbers, the lucky winners are: Eugene and Sara!
Before I let you go, I’d like to let you know I was featured on Chef Julie Yoon‘s Featured Friday last Friday. Please go here to get to know me a little better by reading my interview with Julie. While you’re there, make sure to check out her great recipes. Chef Julie is a professionally trained chef with impressive credentials. Enjoy!