korean pumpkin porridge topped with sweet rice balls and black sesame seeds in a white bowl with a slice of raw kabocha in the background
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5 from 3 votes

korean pumpkin porridge with sweet rice balls (when hobakjuk and tang yuan meet)

Kabocha is naturally sweet with a smooth velvety texture, which makes it perfect for making Korean pumpkin porridge (hobakjuk). This porridge is so comforting that it makes me think of lazy days spent in a warm and cozy bed. It's especially satisfying to cook and eat on cold fall or winter days. Sweet rice balls (known as tang yuan in Chinese or Taiwanese cuisine) are typically served with this pumpkin porridge. They add a chewy but soft texture to the dish and are super easy to make. When hobakjuk and tang yuan meet, I can't resist.
prep time10 mins
cook time20 mins
total time30 mins
course: Dessert, Side Dish
cuisine: Chinese, korean, Taiwanese
keyword: chinese new year, comfort food, home cooking, kabocha squash, lunar new year, porridge, puree, tang yuan
difficulty: easy
servings: 6 people
author: cindy chou


kabocha squash

  • 1 kabocha squash (about 4 pounds), rinsed/washed
  • 3 cups water
  • 1 inch piece ginger, optional, thinly sliced

sweet rice balls - tang yuan (makes approximately 32 small balls)

  • 1/2 cup sweet rice flour
  • 1/8 teaspoon sugar, optional
  • 3 tablespoons water, just boiled

finishing touch

  • 1 teaspoon sugar, optional to taste
  • 1 tablespoon toasted black sesame seeds, divided


cooking the kabocha squash

  • Cut the washed kabocha squash (pumpkin) into quarters. Scoop out seeds using a spoon.
  • Place kabocha squash pieces cut side up in a large pot and fill with 3 cups of water. Add ginger slices into the water. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, cover, and reduce heat to simmer for 20 minutes. The squash should be tender and easily pierced with a knife when done.

prepare the sweet rice balls while the kabocha squash cooks

  • In a medium mixing bowl, combine the sweet rice flour and sugar with just boiled hot water. Stir with a small spatula and knead with your hands once the dough is cool enough to touch. Knead until soft and smooth like play-doh. If needed, add more hot water little by little between kneading until the dough isn’t too dry.
  • Using your hands, roll the dough on a cutting board into a long cylinder shape (about ½” diameter). Cut the cylinder into 18 - 32 pieces (based on your preference of size) and form each piece into a sphere by rolling in between the palms of your hands. Keep the dough covered with a damp towel to prevent them from drying out. 
  • In a small saucepan, cook the sweet rice balls in rapidly boiling water until they float to the surface (about 2 minutes). Strain, place in a container and cover with cold water.

making kabocha squash porridge

  • When the cooked squash is cool enough to handle, scoop out the flesh with a spoon to remove the skin. Combine peeled squash and remaining water from the pot (without the ginger) into a blender and blend until smooth. Add sugar to taste if the squash isn’t as sweet as you’d like (about 1 teaspoon). Blend again to combine.
  • Serve hot or warm and top with cooked sweet rice balls and toasted black sesame seeds.


If you'd like to take part in some Chinese New Year fun, you can use beet juice or food coloring to add color to 1/4 of the sweet rice flour dough before shaping them into balls. 
To reheat the porridge, heat the kabocha squash puree separately in a saucepan on low heat, stirring every so often. You can gently heat already cooked sweet rice balls in hot water before adding to the porridge or freeze uncooked rice balls for a later date.
tried this recipe?Mention @healthyfeelslovely or tag #healthyfeels! I'd love to see what you made.