Hobakjuk is a golden-yellow and velvety porridge made with pumpkin and glutinous rice! Make this delicious comfort food with this easy recipe!
Fall is in full swing! The leaves are turning colors, and pumpkins are everywhere. With the weather getting cool, we all crave some warm comfort food. For Koreans, juk (porridge) is a popular comfort food either as a light meal or snack. This hobakjuk (or hobakjook, 호박죽) is made with pumpkin and sweet rice (aka glutinous rice), chapssal (찹쌀).
This beautifully golden-yellow and velvety porridge will surely warm your body and soul this fall and winter!
Which pumpkin to use
Hobak is a generic term for all types of pumpkins and squash. In Korea, hobakjuk is typically made with matured pumpkin called neulgeun hobak (늙은호박) or danhobak (단호박, meaning sweet pumpkin). Danhobak is known as its Japanese name, kabocha, here in the U.S.
I usually make it with a kabocha for its sweet flavor and bright color. You can, however, use any orange fleshed winter squash/pumpkin.
How to make pumpkin porridge
The squash can be peeled first, 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.
You can microwave the kabocha halves in your microwave by placing cut side down on a plate and cook uncovered on high for 10-15 minutes until soft.
In the oven, you can bake the kabocha halves, the cut side down, at 400ºF for about 45 – 50 minutes.
If you have an Instant Pot, it will take about 7 minutes to cook kabocha halves on Manual High, with natural pressure release for 5 minutes. Add a cup of water in the pot, and place the squash in a steamer basket.
You can purée the cooked squash if you want, using a blender or an immersion blender. I usually just mash it with a spoon or potato masher while cooking because I like a little bit of squash lumps in my porridge.
Traditionally, there are two ways to incorporate sweet rice into this porridge.
One is in the form of small rice cake balls, called saealsim (새알심), made with rice powder. The other is simply mixing in finely ground soaked sweet rice or sweet rice flour (chapssal garu or mochiko) slurry. Some people do both.
I like the consistency of the latter, so that’s what I usually do. Sometimes, I go one step further and make rice balls as well. They are easy to make!
It’s common to add cooked pat (팥, adzuki beans) to pumpkin porridge. See my danpatjuk recipe to find out how to cook the beans.
You can also top it with pine nuts, pumpkin seeds, and/or jujubes (daechu, 대추), but they are optional.
Hobakjuk (Pumpkin Porridge)Appetizer, Breakfast, Snack
- 1 kabocha (danhobak, 단호박) or small pumpkin, about 2 pounds
- 1/2 cup sweet rice (aka glutinous rice), soaked in water for at least an hour or use 1/2 cup sweet rice flour (chapssal garu or mochiko), mixed in 1 cup of water
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 to 2 tablespoons brown sugar adjust to taste or omit
Optional rice balls
- 1/2 cup sweet rice flour (chapssal garu, 찹쌀가루, or mochiko)
- 2 teaspoons sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 cup red beans, pat (팥), soaked and boiled - optional or use canned sweetened red beans (if using sweetened beans, omit sugar above
- 1 tablespoon pine nuts, pumpkin seeds, jujubes, if available Walnuts or pecans will be great too
- 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 high heat until the squash turns fork tender, about 25 - 30 minutes. Discard the water and let the squash cool. See the notes for other cooking methods.
- When the squash is cool enough to handle, scoop out the flesh (or peel the skin off).
- 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). Or use an immersion blender or simply mash it with a spoon or potato masher while cooking if you like a little bit of squash lumps in my porridge.
- In a blender, grind the soaked glutinous rice with 1 cup of water as finely as possible.
- 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.
For the optional rice cake balls
- Mix the rice powder, sugar and salt in a bowl. Stir in 4 tablespoons of boiling hot water with a spoon. When cool enough to handle, knead by hand until a dough is formed.
- Shape the dough into a 3/4-inch thick cylinder. Cut into (or pinch off) 3/4-inch pieces. Roll each piece between the palms to make a small ball.
- Bring a pot of water to a boil. Add the rice cake balls. Cook until all the balls float. Transfer to a large bowl with cold water to cool. Drain.
- Ladle some porridge into a serving bowl. Serve hot with a few optional rice balls and garnishes.
This hobakjuk recipe was originally posted in October 2011. It’s been updated here with new photos, more information and minor improvements to the recipe.