Hobakjuk (Pumpkin Porridge)
1 small Korean pumpkin (kabocha) or about 2 pounds (unpeeled weight)
1/2 cup sweet rice flour (any brand), mixed in 1 cup of water or 1/2 cup glutinous rice, soaked in water for at least an hour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon brown sugar adjust to taste or exclude
1/4 cup red or white beans, pat, soaked and boiled (optional)
1 tablespoon Black sesame seeds (optional for garnish)
Optional rice cake balls
1/2 cup sweet rice flour
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
2 teaspoons sugar
4 tablespoons hot water
Cut the pumpkin into quadrants. Remove the seeds and stringy bits with a knife and/or spoon. Place them in a large pot. Add water about one-third way up the squash or about 6 cups. Cover and boil over medium-high heat for about 25 minutes or until the squash turn fork tender. Remove the water, separate the pumpkin in a bowl and let it cool.
When the squash is cool enough to handle, cut the skin off from the flesh and discard. Chop the pumpkin into smaller chunks.
You can purée the cooked squash at this point if you want, using a blender (make sure to have 3 cups of water) or simply mash it with a spoon or potato masher while cooking if you like a little bit of squash.
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 adjust 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 cooked red beans (optional) for an additional 3 - 4 minutes.
Garnish with black sesame seeds (optional). Remove it from the heat and serve.
How to make 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 (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. Add the rice cake balls. Cook until all the balls float. Scoop out the rice cake balls using a strainer then transfer them into a bowl with cold water to cool. Drain.
Garnish on the pumpkin porridge.
Inspired by Korean Bapsang