Have you had kabocha, or Japanese pumpkin, before? It looks like the acorn squash’s ugly sister but tastes MUCH sweeter and has a hint of nutty and earthy flavors. It is hands down my favorite squash. Its skin color is deep green with light spots/striations while the flesh is as orange as that of a butternut squash. In addition, kabocha has an impressive nutrient profile as it contains:
• Beta-carotene – When converted to vitamin A in the body, it is a powerful anti-oxidant that boosts the immune system and promotes healthy eyes, skin, and hair. A single serving of kabocha provides 70% of the recommended daily requirement.
• Iron, vitamin C, potassium, calcium, and fiber
"Danhobak juk" or kabocha porridge is one of the easiest Korean porridges to make. Thanks to my mom, preparing the squash became so much easier. Rather than steaming or roasting the gourd in the oven, simply pop it in the microwave for about 5-10 minutes. Once cooled, you can peel the skin right off with a pairing knife.
Since it’s a porridge, it needs a thickener, right? That’s where the sweet rice flour comes in. Unlike my mom, who taught me to use actual sweet rice (a process that involves soaking the rice in water for several hours and blending until smooth), I’m taking a shortcut. Mix the sweet rice flour with water to create a slurry and add it to the pot of simmering squash that’s been mashed. It is extremely important that you mix the flour with water first to avoid ending up with unsightly lumps (I learned this the hard way). Once it’s added, simply cook the porridge until it becomes thick and then season to taste.
You can stop here, but if you wish to have a little more fun and perhaps get your children involved, making these chewy 1-ingredient rice cake balls will totally be worth your time. And don’t feel like you have to rush to prepare these chewy orbs. If it takes you a little while to get the dough just right, no worries. The porridge can just continue to simmer happily on the stove and develop even more flavor as it waits for its friends to join the party. Add these balls at the very end to the cooking porridge for about 5 minutes, or until they float to the top. And your work is done!
While the porridge is usually served hot, I also love to eat it cold. It’s like a healthy dessert. This recipe makes about 6-8 servings and can be refrigerated for up to a week. If I know I’m going to be freezing it, I just leave out the rice dumplings. Instead, you can freeze them separately. So what do you think? Nothing to it, right? I sure hope you’ll give this a try!
Enjoy this Kabocha Porridge with Rice Cake Balls for breakfast or dessert! Tweet this
Kabocha Porridge with Rice Cake Balls
serves 6 to 8
- 1 kabocha, about 2-3 lbs.
- 4 cups water
- 1/3 cup sweet rice flour + 1 cup water
- 2 Tbs honey or maple syrup (adjust to liking)
- 1/2 tsp salt
- For rice cake balls (makes about 40):
- ¾ cup sweet rice flour
- ½ cup hot water
- ¼ tsp salt
Wash kabocha, wipe dry, and cook in microwave for about 5-10 minutes until exterior softened. When cooled, cut it in half and remove seeds and strings with a spoon. Using a pairing knife, peel the skin. Cube the squash and place in a large pot. Mash it with a spoon or masher.
Add 4 cups of water and bring pot to a boil. Lower heat and continue to stir and mash chunks of squash until smooth.
In a small bowl, stir together 1/3 cup sweet rice flour with 1 cup of water. Pour mixture into the pot, quickly stirring to prevent lumps from forming. The porridge will start to thicken very quickly.
Bring the contents of the pot to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer, stirring occasionally (make sure to scrape the bottom). Adjust consistency to your liking by adding more water if too thick.
While the porridge is simmering, prepare the rice cake balls. Mix all the ingredients and knead until nice and stretchy. Shape into ½ in balls. *
Add honey and salt to pot and stir in. Add rice cake balls and cook for about 5 minutes, stirring often to prevent them from sticking to the bottom. When cooked, the balls will float to the top.
Turn off heat and season with more salt and honey if desired.
* To prevent the rice balls from drying out, keep them covered with plastic wrap as you work.