Hobakjuk (Korean Pumpkin Porridge)
Hobakjuk is a Korean kabocha squash porridge that is velvety and sweet. The pear that is uniquely added in this recipe acts as a natural sweetener and adds a bright yet subtle fruity flavor.
Hobakjuk (호박죽) or pumpkin porridge is usually served as a light breakfast, comfort food, or dessert. The Korean word, hobak (호박), is used to collectively refer to pumpkin, different types of squash, and zucchini. This porridge is typically made with kabocha squash. In Korean, kabocha squash is called danhobak (단호박), which in direct translation means sweet pumpkin.
If you’re looking for more sweet Korean snacks, check out my pear hotteok recipe and loaded Korean sweet potato recipe.
Roasting the Kabocha Squash
Most hobakjuk recipes say to steam the squash. However, I like to roast the kabocha squash because it gives it a toasty, deeper, and nutty flavor. The roasting also caramelizes the natural sugars in the squash and so enhances its sweetness.
After you scoop out the roasted squash flesh, you could use a blender or an immersion blender to puree the squash. You could also manually mash the squash with a potato masher.
Sweet rice (aka glutinous rice)
Sweet rice flour is usually added to thicken the porridge. I like to soak whole sweet rice (chapssal, 찹쌀) in water for about an hour and then pulse it in a food processor with some water until it forms a fine slurry.
Natural Sweetener – Bosc Pear
Most recipes sweeten the hobakjuk with cane sugar. I, however, add bosc pear to naturally sweeten this porridge. The subtle pear flavor gives this sweet and nutty porridge another dimension of flavor that is crisp and subtly fruity. The fall flavors of squash and pear also go beautifully together.
Red bean (paht, 팥), jujube (daechu, 대추), and white rice cake balls (saealsim, 새알심) are common toppings for this porridge. However, I decided to add some alternative toppings that have some more nutritional value. While totally optional, I like to garnish this dish with more sliced pear, dried goji berries, and pumpkin seeds.
Other Korean snack recipes:
Mise en place
If you make this Hobak Juk, I would love to hear your thoughts! Feel free to leave a comment and/or recipe rating at the bottom of this page. And if you have a photo of your food, be sure to tag me on Instagram!
Hobakjuk (Korean Pumpkin Porridge)
- 1 kabocha squash (about 2 lb)
- 1 bosc pear (peeled, cored, & roughly chopped)
- ¼ cup sweet rice
- 4-5 cups water
- ⅙ tsp salt
- TT coconut sugar (optional sweetener)
- pumpkin seeds
- dried goji berries
- bosc pear, cored, peeled, and julienned
- Preheat the oven to 400°F.
- Let the sweet rice soak in some cold water.
- Clean the skin of the kabocha squash under cold running water, and then dry with a paper towel.
- Using a heavy duty knife, carefully cut the kabocha squash in half. (Pierce the skin using the tip of the knife and then cut through the flesh of half of the squash. Flip the squash over and cut through the rest of the squash.)
- Scoop out the seeds with a spoon.
- Cover a large baking try with parchment paper and add the squash halves cut-side down.
- Place the baking tray with the squash in the oven and let it roast for about 50-60 minutes or until the squash is fork tender.
- Remove the squash from the oven and let it slightly cool.
- Using a large spoon, scoop out the squash flesh (leaving the skin behind) into a separate bowl. Add the sliced pear to the bowl as well.
- Puree the squash and pear together using an immersion blender. Transfer the puree to a large pot.
- Drain the water from the soaked sweet rice.
- Grind the rice in a blender or food processor with 1 cup of water until it forms a fine slurry.
- Add the sweet rice slurry and 3 cups of water to the pot with the squash puree and stir it all together.
- Let it simmer for about 20 minutes over low heat. You could add more water until you get your desired porridge thickness/consistency.
- (Optional) For additional sweetness, add coconut sugar to taste.
- Ladle some of the porridge into a small bowl and serve immediately.
- (Optional) Top the porridge with some pumpkin seeds, dried goji berries, and sliced pear.