Danhobak(단호박)/Kabocha Squash and Goguma (고구마)/Sweet potato are probably some of the most popular ingredient in Korea these days. I say that because I see these two ingredients everywhere – actually to the point where I am tired of seeing them as the ‘featured’ ingredient in a dish. One of the things that bothers me the most is how Koreans add sweet potato to pizza. Mashed sweet potato is used to either top the pizza or to fill the crust with. I just can’t imagine that tasting good – I mean adding a pasty, sweet substance on top of pizza?? I guess I will have to give it a try someday just to prove myself right but for now, I will pass. :)
So, when I first encountered Danhobak Salad at our local restaurant, I was not sure I was going to like it. But surprisingly this was good. So I had to try making it. Before we go on, a little history behind it:
Kabocha Squash or Danhobak (단호박) is a relatively new vegetable in the Korean kitchen. This squash only appeared in Korea about 20 years ago in the 90’s. Before then, there were only green zucchini type squashes and giant pumpkins (늙은 호박 neulgeun hobak). The giant pumpkins are exactly the same as Halloween pumpkins in the US. Except, in Korea, the giant pumpkins are left in the field longer into fall, until they are fully aged (Neulgeun means ‘aged’). At which point the pumpkins become pale orange and rock hard.
These aged pumpkins (늙은 호박 neulgeun hobak) were traditionally used to make porridge (죽 jook), rice cakes (떡 tteok) and kimchi. In addition to seaweed soup (미역국 meeyoek guk), pumpkin porridge (호박죽 hobak jook) is a must eat food to new mothers because it helps with fluid retention after childbirth. Problem with 늙은 호박 though, is that it’s just way too big for today’s smaller family. And the very hard skin makes cutting really difficult. For those reasons, the smaller Kabocha squash is perfect because it has similar nutritional benefits but is much easier to handle and smaller in size.
NUTRITION: Danhobak is high in beta-carotene, vitamin C and low in calories. The high beta-carotene content makes it a great food for the eyes. But in Korea, everyone knows that it has been used for generations to help with postpartum edema or fluid retention and also considered a great healing food for colds.
Servings: 5 Cooking Time: 20 min Difficulty: Easy
- 1 lb (455 g) Korean Danhobak (단호박) aka Kabocha Squash
- 2~3 T mayonnaise
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 2 T dried raisins
- 1 T pumpkin seeds
- 1~2 tsp honey
- 1 ~ 1 1/4 tsp dijon mustard
- For a good size danhobak, half weighs about 1 lb. Clean and cut squash into slices:
Remove the seeds with a spoon:
Cut squash into about 1.5 inch thick slices for quicker cooking.
- Steam the squash slices for 15 min or so until the thickest parts are easily pierced with a fork.
- Cut the green skin off the cooked squash. Cut squash into smaller pieces and put in a bowl. Mash squash like making mashed potato. I didn’t have a potato masher so I just used a whisk. Don’t kill yourself trying to mash it completely – leave some small chunks to give the salad more texture.
- To the mashed squash, add 2T mayonnaise, 1 tsp dijon mustard, 1/4 tsp salt and 1 tsp honey. Mix it all well. Taste and adjust by adding more mayo for creamier taste, more mustard for more zing and more honey if you like things sweet. Finally add raisins and pumpkin seeds.
- Serve the salad chilled. The salad goes great with many Korean dishes – especially hot and spicy or meaty dishes. Kids will also love the slightly sweet and creamy salad. Enjoy!