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Korean Pumpkin Porridge (Hobakjuk)

Easy pumpkin porridge recipe. Learn how to make Korean style pumpkin porridge!

Korean pumpkin porridge (Hobakjuk, 호박죽) is a popular snack / dessert, but some people even eat it for breakfast too. It’s sweet, nutty and velvety. A perfect comfort food in fall and winter!

Korean Pumpkin Porridge (Hobakjuk) | MyKoreanKitchen.com

The Korean word – Hobak (호박) is a generic term for pumpkin, squash (US) and zucchini. But when we refer to Hobakjuk (호박죽), it is usually made with danhobak (단호박), which is known as kabocha squash, Japanese pumpkin, and Kent pumpkin in some English speaking countries.

Among other benefits, pumpkin porridge is known for reducing swelling after surgery in Korea. So it’s a popular get well gift.

The porridge is often seasoned with sugar, but as kabocha squash is naturally sweet, you can reduce it or even skip it per your preference.

Though while my sister was taste testing my recipe, she said 1/4 cup sugar is about the right amount to match the taste of store bought hobakjuk. But that much sugar gave me a headache, so I decided to add less sugar than that in my recipe. (I’m only sharing this information in case you want to mimic the taste of store bought porridge. 😉 )

Korean pumpkin porridge has a velvety smooth texture so it is a popular baby food as well. But if I were using this recipe for a baby, I would omit the sugar, salt and the rice cake balls. Alternatively, you can use this recipe that I used for my daughter. It was one of her favorite baby foods back in the days.

How to Make Pumpkin Porridge (Hobakjuk)

Another highlight of Korean pumpkin porridge is rice cake balls. (Some people might call it rice dumplings). These balls are made with sweet rice flour (mochiko) and its jelly like texture is quite fun to eat with the porridge. My sister reckons it’s the best part!

Interestingly, these rice cake balls are called Saealsim (새알심) in Korea. That means bird’s egg. It’s probably named like this because they look like small bird’s eggs.

Depending on how you use these balls, they can be used to thicken your porridge, but I mainly use them as a garnish and use additional portions of sweet rice flour to thicken the porridge.

Now that all the basics are covered, let’s get cooking! Hope you enjoy my recipe!

P.S. If you like kabocha squash, don’t forget to check out my pumpkin spice latte (without coffee) & Korean style pumpkin latte (no coffee) recipe! (Both recipes can be found in the same link.)

Ingredients for Korean Pumpkin Porridge, Serves 6

Main

  • 1.7 kg / 3.7 pounds (unpeeled weight) kabocha squash / kent pumpkin or butternut squash
  • 3 cups water
  • 1/4 cup sweet rice flour
  • 3 Tbsp water
  • 3 Tbsp (raw) sugar or more to taste
  • 1/2 tsp fine sea salt

Rice cake balls (Optional) – Make 30 small balls

  • 1/2 cup sweet rice flour
  • 1/4 tsp fine sea salt
  • 4 to 5 Tbsp hot water

*1 Tbsp = 15 ml, 1 Cup = 250 ml

How to Make Pumpkin Porridge

1. Cut the pumpkin (kabocha squash) into quadrants. Remove the seeds and stringy bits with a knife and/or spoon.

Cutting kabocha squash

2. Place the pumpkin into a steamer and steam them over rolling boiling water until the pumpkin is tender and soft. Cool down the pumpkin until it’s easy to handle. Cut the skin off from the flesh and discard. Chop the pumpkin into smaller chunks.

Steaming kabocha squash

3. Place the pumpkin, water (3 cups), sugar and the salt into a blender. Blend it until pureed. Pour the liquefied pumpkin into a medium size saucepan and boil it over medium high heat for 10 mins. Stir it often to avoid it burning.

Pureeing steamed kabocha in a blender

4. Combine and mix the sweet rice flour and the water (3 Tbsp) in a small bowl. It should be a sticky gluey texture. Gradually pour it in to the pumpkin porridge and stir it consistently to avoid lumps. Simmer the porridge over low heat for a further 3 mins. Remove it from the heat and serve. (Optionally, garnish with some rice cake balls.)

Boiling pumpkin porridge

The porridge can be served warm or cold. The unused portion can be refrigerated for a few days or frozen for a month. It reheats well in a microwave but make sure you cover with a microwaveable lid to avoid a messy clean up afterwards.

How to Make Rice Cake Balls

(This optional process can be done while the pumpkin porridge is boiling in step 3 above.)

1. Combine the sweet rice flour and salt. Gradually pour the hot water over them and start kneading with your hands. (Watch out for the hot temperature. Though it cools down fast. You can use a mixing spoon initially until it’s safe to handle with your hands.)

Make a big dough then turn it into a long thin cylinder shaped dough. Break the dough into smaller pieces (allow to make 30 small balls) then roll them on your palm, making small rice cake balls. (You might be tempted to make bigger balls to save your time and labor, but small balls taste better and it balances out well with the porridge quantity.)

Making sweet rice cake balls

2. Boil some water in a small pot. Once the water is rapidly boiling gently drop in the rice cake balls. Boil them for about 2 minutes. (They will sink to the bottom at first then they will float as they are cooked.)

Scoop out the rice cake balls using a strainer then transfer them into a bowl with (cold) water then set it aside until needed.

Boiling rice cake balls

3. Garnish on the pumpkin porridge.

Korean Pumpkin Soup with Rice Dumplings


Korean Pumpkin Porridge (Hobakjuk) | MyKoreanKitchen.com

Pumpkin Porridge (Hobakjuk)

How to Make Korean Pumpkin Porridge (Hobakjuk)
5 from 8 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: Korean
Keyword: porridge, pumpkin, squash
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 35 minutes
Servings: 6
Calories: 192kcal
Author: Sue | My Korean Kitchen

Ingredients

MAIN

  • 1.7 kg kabocha (3.75 pounds) kent pumpkin or butternut squash (unpeeled weight)
  • 3 cups water
  • 1/4 cup sweet rice flour
  • 3 Tbsp water
  • 3 Tbsp sugar or more to taste
  • 1/2 tsp fine sea salt

RICE CAKE BALLS (OPTIONAL) – MAKE 30 SMALL BALLS

Instructions

HOW TO MAKE PUMPKIN PORRIDGE

  • Cut the pumpkin (kabocha squash) into quadrants. Remove the seeds and stringy bits with a knife and/or spoon.
  • Place the pumpkin into a steamer and steam them over rolling boiling water until the pumpkin is tender and soft. Cool down the pumpkin until it’s easy to handle. Cut the skin off from the flesh and discard. Chop the pumpkin into smaller chunks.
  • Place the pumpkin, water (3 cups), sugar and the salt into a blender. Blend it until pureed. Pour the liquefied pumpkin into a medium size saucepan and boil it over medium high heat for 10 mins. Stir it often to avoid it burning.
  • Combine and mix the sweet rice flour and the water (3 Tbsp) in a small bowl. It should be a sticky gluey texture. Gradually pour it in to the pumpkin porridge and stir it consistently to avoid lumps. Simmer the porridge over low heat for a further 3 mins. Remove it from the heat and serve. (Optionally, garnish with some rice cake balls.)
    The porridge can be served warm or cold. The unused portion can be refrigerated for a few days or frozen for a month. It reheats well in a microwave but make sure you cover with a microwaveable lid to avoid a messy clean up afterwards.

HOW TO MAKE RICE CAKE BALLS

  • Combine the sweet rice flour and salt. Gradually pour the hot water over them and start kneading with your hands. (Watch out for the hot temperature. Though it cools down fast. You can use a mixing spoon initially until it’s safe to handle with your hands.) 
    Make a big dough then turn it into a long thin cylinder shaped dough. Break the dough into smaller pieces (allow to make 30 small balls) then roll them on your palm, making small rice cake balls. (You might be tempted to make bigger balls to save your time and labor, but small balls taste better and it balances out well with the porridge quantity.)
  • Boil some water in a small pot. Once the water is rapidly boiling gently drop in the rice cake balls. Boil them for about 2 minutes. (They will sink to the bottom at first then they will float as they are cooked.) 
    Scoop out the rice cake balls using a strainer then transfer them into a bowl with (cold) water then set it aside until needed.
  • Garnish on the pumpkin porridge.

Nutrition

Calories: 192kcal | Carbohydrates: 46g | Protein: 3g | Sodium: 309mg | Potassium: 1001mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 12g | Vitamin A: 3875IU | Vitamin C: 34.8mg | Calcium: 83mg | Iron: 1.7mg
Tried this recipe?I love hearing how you went with my recipes! Leave a comment below or Tag me on Instagram @MyKoreanKitchen.

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Written by: Sue

Last Updated: May 13, 2019

Hi, I'm Sue and I am the creator of My Korean Kitchen. Thank you for joining me in this delicious culinary journey!

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17 thoughts on “Korean Pumpkin Porridge (Hobakjuk)”

  1. A few weeks ago I made a pumpkin soup when Coles had it for $1 per Kg, for a bit of a twist I added some gochujang, gochugaru and parmasean cheese. May not be for everyone but I loved it, then again I could eat gochujang by the teaspoon, I sooo love the flavour. 🙂 Will have to try this next time. 🙂

  2. Hi Sue, thanks for the recipe it looks delicious would love to make it . I live in Barbados and I would have to check around for to see if I can get the sweet rice flour here in my country. If i find it I’ll let you know how it turned out.

    • Sweet rice flour should be relatively easy to find. I bought mine from a regular grocer at the international food aisle. You could also try general asian grocer too. Korean grocer will definitely have it, of course. Enjoy my recipe! 🙂

  3. Thank you so much for this recipe. I had this in Korea last year and really wanted it again. I wanted to make my own and was looking at recipes online. Nothing appealed to me and they seemed complicated. Then your email came and you always make recipes seem so simple. I will be trying it this weekend. If all goes well, I will be making more and freezing batches.

  4. Hi Sue,

    I got my squash last night and plan on making this this weekend. I was just saying that I wanted to make this and then got your email. I had this in Korea last year and it was so so good. It is perfect for this season. I plan on making this and if all goes well I will make more and freeze batches.

  5. When I roast the butternut squash in the oven(skin on)I usually rub the skin with vegetable oil, remove the seeds, and put it on a sheet or roasting pan, skin side down, and cover it so that it doesn’t dry out. You have to check it from time to time, using a fork or chopstick to test for doneness. If you leave it in too long, the juices will start to caramelize and burn. That’s the sugar coming out. You don’t want to burn that sugar. Roasting is good for 2 reasons: with the pumpkin covered, the dry heat will cause the pumpkin to roast in its own moisture and there is less danger of the flesh becoming becoming too wet as when it is boiled. That way you have more control over how much water or soup stock(preferred) to add. If. When you add half and half or heavy cream to give the soup a smoother, more velvety texture, you won’t have excess moisture that you might get when boiling in water which might dillute the natural flavor. I’m not sure if it makes a difference whether you purée the pumpkin flesh before or after adding the cream. The second reason to roast the squash, skin-on, is that the flesh can be easily scooped out with virtually no waste. Hint: if you try this method, try scraping the pan where the flesh has started to caramelize around the edges. It’s like eating candy. BTW: I will definitely make a kabocha porridge as a side dish to our Thanksgiving dinner this year with the rice cake balls and several other side dishes several Korean side dishes using your banchan recipes,.

  6. Hi Sue,
    Thanks for the porridge recipe. Our local Korean Market sells acontainers of pumpkin porridge daily in their ready-to-eat section. I regularly make a variety of soup recipes, including roasted, puréed butternut squash or kabocha soup. Roasting brings out more of the natural sugar, so I add less sugar. I add a couple of cloves of pressed garlic, a tiny bit of nutmeg, and use canned chicken broth instead of water. For richness I add about a quarter cup of heavy cream, topped with toasted pumpkin seeds, sour cream, and cilantro. Your post provides me with the crowning touch, the rice cake balls. I will try to make them this week. The result for me will be a main course entree. Thanks again for sharing.

    • Hi Michael, I didn’t know roasting brings out more natural sweet taste of the pumpkin. Maybe next time I can try that. I bet it’s nuttier too. Anyway, enjoy my recipe!

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