In Korean this dish is called “hobakjuk,” which can technically refer to zucchini or winter squash porridge. However, it most commonly refers to a porridge that celebrates the sweet winter squash called danhobak (it is also known as kabocha squash). The short-grain brown rice in this dish is a plant-based way to enhance its silky creamy texture.
MIND diet foods: Vegetables, Whole Grains, Nuts
- ½ cup sweet brown rice
- 1 medium kabocha squash, about 4 lbs measured whole
- 6 cups of water, ½ cup of water
- Salt to taste
- Recommended garnishes: jujube (red dates), sliced; pine nuts, roasted sesame seeds
- Optional: honey
- ½ cup sweet rice flour
- 5 tablespoons of water
- Rinse and drain brown rice in cool water 3 to 5 times. Soak rice in clean water for at least 1 hour (can be done a day ahead).
- Preheat oven to 400F, about 15 minutes.
- Meanwhile, soften the squash. Wash squash well, then pierce several times with a fork or knife and place in a large microwave safe bowl with 3 inches of water. Cook for 4 minutes. Flip the squash over, and cook for another 4 minutes. Let squash rest until cool enough to handle, then cut into 2-4 pieces and toss with a neutral oil, then place cut side down on a lined baking sheet and roast for 20 minutes. Let rest until cool enough to handle, then remove skins. It's 6-8 cups.
- While squash is roasting, make the thickening liquid. Drain soaked rice and add to blender with ½ cup of water. Blend on high until liquified, and set aside until ready to use. Quickly rinse out the blender.
- Blend the squash in batches, gradually adding 6 cups of water, until smooth. Move blended squash to a large pot and heat on low.
- Slowly stir in brown rice-water mixture and let simmer for 10-15 minutes. Remove from heat and salt to taste.
- Meanwhile, make the rice cake dumplings. Start a medium pot of water to boil, and set up a large bowl of cold ice water.
- Heat 5 tablespoons of water, e.g. in microwave or tea kettle.
- Place rice flour in a medium bowl and stir in hot water gradually until cool enough to handle, then knead dough for a few minutes.
- Pinch off a ½ teaspoon at a time and roll dough between palms to form small balls (makes about 30 of them)
- Drop into boiling water for 1-2 minutes, until they float
- Remove rice cake dumplings with a slotted spoon and place in cold water bath until ready to use
- Pour soup into bowls, add a few rice cake dumplings to each, and garnish as desired. Drizzle with honey if using. Enjoy.
Come Christmas time, my family gathers at my parents’ home in southern California. There’s a single pomegranate tree in our backyard, and every winter my mom saves the best one for me. This simple side dish is a way to honor those jewels of winter. I always try to make something simple, seasonal, delicious and vibrantly healthy (and okay, I also want it to be photogenic). Ultimately, I want my loved ones to live long and healthy lives, so tasty yet ridiculously healthy food is my love language. Bonus: this dish is so simple, you won’t be stuck (or getting in anyone’s way) in the kitchen for long.
Tip: Use a circular ravioli or cookie cutter to remove seeds from each ring. This makes it easy to have a visually pleasing center cutout with clean edges.
Curried Acorn Squash with Pistachios and Pomegranates
Prep: 15 min | Cook: 20 min | Rest: 10 min | Total: 45 min
2 small acorn squash, 2-3 lbs each, cut into 1″ rings (about 3 rings per squash)
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp curry powder
1/2 cup pomegranate arils (1 small pomegranate; you may have extra)
1/2 cup pistachio kernels
Salt and pepper, to taste
Preheat the oven to 400ºF for at least 15 minutes. Meanwhile, wash and dry the produce. Remove pomegranate arils by quartering the pomegranate and loosening arils from the skin underwater in a large bowl; drain. On a large baking sheet, arrange acorn squash rings in a single layer. Drizzle with olive oil, curry powder, and salt and pepper to taste. Toss to combine. Add to oven and bake for 20 minutes, or to desired doneness (fork should easily pierce the skin). Allow to cool for at least 10 minutes, season to taste. Transfer to serving platter and generously garnish with pistachios and pomegranate arils. Serve immediately.