The pumpkin is the fruit of a trailing vine that belongs to the gourd family. Originally from the Andes region of Peru, it was introduced to Korea in the 16th century, during the period of Japan’s invasions of the Korean peninsula. Early on, pumpkin was widely cultivated at Buddhist temples, where it became a basic food of monks, then later emerged as a regular food of the common people of the Joseon Dynasty (1392-1910). With its sweet and pleasant taste, ripe yellow pumpkin has been a mealtime favorite for as long as anyone can remember. Pumpkin is rich in carotene, which aids in the absorption of Vitamin A, and also contains a diuretic that is effective for reducing the swelling of pregnant women and for treating people with kidney ailments. According to an old saying, to protect against stroke, pumpkin should be eaten on the winter solstice. Indeed, pumpkin is enjoying a surge in popularity as a health food and nutritious vegetable that can help to treat diabetes and obesity. Moreover, since the sugar in pumpkin is easily digested, pumpkin-based snack foods are ideal for weight-conscious people or those with a sensitive stomach. And for people recovering from illness, pumpkin is a perfect food to help them regain their vitality. Since pumpkin can be kept for lengthy periods, from long ago it has been stored so that it could be consumed throughout the winter, as a valuable source of Vitamin A, which was not readily available from other foods during the wintertime. Because vitamin A can help to improve people’s resistance to respiratory afflictions, those who are susceptible to colds should regularly eat pumpkin in the winter to strengthen their respiratory system. In addition, pumpkin seeds have a high content of lecithin and essential amino acids which are vital for normal brain functions, and also contains a protease that inhibits the growth of cancerous cells.
Diversity of Applications
Pumpkin seeds are shelled and roasted, then mixed with maltose syrup and sugar syrup to make traditional candies, and also to decorate rice cakes and traditional cookies and confections. Pumpkin leaves can be added to stew and soup dishes, or steamed and eaten wrapped around rice. Foods cooked with pumpkin include a diversity of items such as rice cake, taffy, pan-fried foods, dough added to soup, seasoned greens, steamed food, rice porridge, and sweet rice drink. The rice cake varieties featuring pumpkin include pumpkin rice cake, glutinous pumpkin rice cake, steamed pumpkin rice cake, and pumpkin half-moon rice cakes, or pumpkin songpyeon (stuffed half moon-shaped rice cakes). To prepare pumpkin songpyeon, an autumn pumpkin is sliced and dried, then pulverized into powder, which is mixed with rice flour and kneaded into dough. The dough is shaped and filled with chestnuts or roasted and sweetened sesame seeds, then steamed over a layer of pine needles. Besides being sweet and great tasting, because of the pumpkin’s color, the rice cakes are a visual delight as well. The gold-colored pumpkin songpyeon are attractive in appearance and just as nutritious as songpyeon made with potato, arrowroot or mugwort. Pumpkin-flavored sikhye (sweet rice drink), which is made from pumpkin, barley malt soaked in water, and ginger, is said to be helpful for relieving asthma symptoms. Wolgwachae is a dish made with baby zucchini, beef, mushrooms and slices of pan-fried rice cakes, which are mixed together and stir-fried. Pumpkin kimchi is made from pumpkin, cabbage leaves, and radish leaves that are salted and combined with red pepper powder and salted fish. Other common pumpkin dishes include pumpkin porridge and steamed pumpkin. Pumpkin porridge, which is savory and sweet, can also stimulate the appetite. It is highly sought as a health food because of the various benefits it can provide.
Favorite Pumpkin Dishes
1 Pumpkin Porridge
This recipe can be made with either pumpkin or oriental squash. When using pumpkin, red beans and other ingredients are often added. Generally, oriental squash is used in summer and pumpkin in winter. Yellow pumpkin gruel stimulates the appetite and it is easy on the stomach. It is best eaten hot.
2. Steamed Oriental Squash
For this recipe, an ideal squash should be smooth and unblemished, firm and glossy, and rather heavy relative to its size. The best squash are moist when cut and have a rich golden flesh. Steamed oriental squash is a favorite of people of all ages because of its soft texture and sweet taste, but it is especially popular as a snack for children or as a diet food. It is a highly sought diet food among young women these days because of the fact it is a rich source of vitamins and carbohydrates, which enhance its sweetness, but with only half the calories of ordinary grains and potatoes. It is also rich in carotene, which aids in the absorption of Vitamin A, and provides nominal amounts of Vitamin C and B. Vitamin B is needed to build muscle tissue and is also helpful for prevention of anemia. As interest in personal health continues to expand, people are increasingly making efforts to have healthy foods on their dining table. In this respect, what could be more perfect than a pumpkin dish for dinner tonight?