When I recapped my trip to Seoul, I mentioned that my experiences on the trip were informing some new kitchen experiments here at home. While some of the food I ate in South Korea was too unique for me to possibly recreate (not to mention dependent on local ingredients), a few dishes felt within reach.
Fortunately, the dish I loved best while I was in Seoul—and which I had the chance to sample more than once, since it seems to be a staple of Temple Food—was savory pumpkin porridge. I loved this dish for its simplicity as much as for its warming, comforting effect: each time I ate it, I’d just come indoors from the cold weather outside. It was subtly sweet, soothing, and it warmed me right down to my bones.
My goal when I got home was to create a version of the porridge that would feel as nourishing and unfussy as what I ate in Seoul, but which would be slightly more boldly flavored. No better way to add tons of flavor and umami to a dish than by incorporating kimchi, and since I returned to my travels more fond of Nasoya kimchi than ever, this felt like a perfect opportunity to showcase it!
The cool thing about this porridge is that, while the kimchi is added only at the end, it makes the dish. Without it, the porridge is sweet but plain, a sensible breakfast but not necessarily memorable. With kimchi—not to mention a sprinkle of toasted sesame seeds and chopped green onion—it becomes so much more complex and layered.
There’s a “choose your own adventure” component to making this dish. If you prefer mild kimchi (which I do), you can use that. If you like your meals on the spicier side, you can use Nasoya’s spicy kimchi instead.
I like the toppings here, but they’re certainly not the only ones that would work nicely with the recipe: you could try toasted pumpkin seeds, steamed greens, a dressing of choice (miso dressing would be amazing), seasoned tofu cubes, or toasted chickpeas. And if you’d like to add some vegetables for extra nutrient density and texture, you’re welcome to do that (I give a cue in the recipe).
The porridge has so many tastes in one place: sweetness, some acid, umami, and saltiness.
When it came time to create the porridge in my own kitchen, I opted to use Japanese pumpkin, or Kabocha squash, which is my favorite winter squash. You can substitute sugar pumpkin, butternut squash, or sweet potato in its place. Breaking down the squash is a handful, but once you’ve done that, the rest of the recipe is about as easy as boiling a pot of rice.
When I got back to New York and was already halfway in love with this porridge, I had the pleasure of making it on camera for the Nasoya team! The video features some fun tips on how to prepare kabocha squash, using a microplane to grate ginger, and getting the porridge to a perfect consistency. I’ll be sure to share it on social media once it’s available, so stay tuned!
I’ve been a fan of savory oats for a while now, but I always love mixing up my grains and ingredients. I can already tell that this porridge will be a wintertime staple in my home. Like most savory porridge, it’s good at any time of day, and the leftovers keep nicely for at least four days in the fridge.
Hope this dish brings some warmth to your mornings, afternoons, and evenings, friends. You can get the whole recipe on the Nasoya website now!
This dish is sponsored by Nasoya. All opinions are my own. Thanks for your support!