Korean Cooking: Pumpkin Side Dish (호박볶음)
What do you do when you’ve accidentally picked a green pumpkin instead of a zucchini from your garden and you’ve got a zucchini recipe to try? My answer: try the recipe anyway.
At least they are in the same family of plants. You might be wondering how this happened in the first place and I can say simply that in Korean, hobak (호박) is used as an all encompassing term for anything in the gourd family. The gourd family includes pumpkins, squash and zucchini and while I think they are so very different and deserve differentiating words, the Korean language does not. At the beginning of the summer season, I bought some baby plants for my garden and picked up two babes labeled “zucchini hobak”, in Korean of course, and there was even a picture to go along with it. At the time, I was thankful that in this particular gardeners farm he had taken the time to differentiate between his gourds, but alas he was wrong. I came home from a trip to an overgrown garden and what looked like a large plump zucchini, picked it, and now you’re up to date. It wasn’t until I had cut into the massive ‘zucchini’ that I realized the error and not knowing what to do with a green pumpkin, I decided to try the recipe I had.
You can use this recipe for a zucchini, or a green pumpkin or if you find yourself in the same situation as I just described.
2 1/2 cups sliced green pumpkin
2 tsp. salt
1 cove minced garlic
1 tsp. sugar
1 tsp. red pepper flakes
2 tsp. sesame oil
1. Slice the pumpkin into easy to eat bite size bits and put them into a bowl. Add the salt and mix together with your hands and then let sit for 30 minutes.
2. After 30 minutes, rinse the pumpkin slices thoroughly and squeeze out any excess water.
3. Put the pumpkin slices back into a bowl and add the garlic, sugar, red pepper flakes and sesame oil and mix with your hands.
4. After mixing and coating the pumpkin slices thoroughly, add a bit of sesame oil to a frying pan and turn the heat up and add the pumpkin to the pan to fry for up to five minutes. Watch it and keep the slices moving around so that they do not burn.
5. This side dish can be eaten right away or chilled in the fridge to be eaten as a side dish with a meal later.Like many recipes, this can be adjusted. Add more red pepper flakes if you like it spicier or don’t add any at all if you aren’t looking for that spicy kick. My mother-in-law only uses salt, sesame seeds, garlic and vegetable oil when she makes this particular side dish. It’s up to you. Experiment, taste and then hopefully it’s good enough you can eat it. Enjoy!