As Seollal, the lunar New Year’s Day approaches next week, let’s take a look at a traditional Korean recipe. This festival is the celebration of the new lunar year and is celebrated to give that’s to the ancestors. Let’s take a look at the delicious songpyeon delicacy.
Songpyeon are small half-moon shaped rice cakes. These treats are stuffed with sweet fillings such as sesame seeds and mung beans. To make these delicacies you will need:
- 2 pounds of frozen rice powder, thawed to room temperature
- 4 to 5 ounces of pine needs, rinsed and air dried
- About 1 tablespoon of sesame oil
- For green dough
- 2 tablespoons of matcha green tea powder
- 5 tablespoons plus 1 or 2 teaspoons of boiling water
- For purple dough
- 4 tablespoons plus 1 or 2 teaspoons of boiling hot blueberry juice
- For pink dough
- 4 tablespoons of raspberry juice
- For white dough
- 4 tablespoons plus 1 or 2 teaspoons of boiling hot water
- ½ cup of roasted sesame seeds
- 2 tablespoons of sugar
- 1 tablespoon of honey
- Pinch of salt
Making the Dough
For each colored dough, sift 2 cups of rice powder into a bowl. Prepare the coloring as desired and quickly mix the coloring into the rice powder. Begin to knead the dough for at least five minutes. If the dough is sticky after kneading, add rice powder in single tablespoon increments until it is no longer sticky. If the ball is too stiff or breaks easily, it is too dry so add a teaspoon of boiling water, one at a time. After the mix is just right, cover the dough with a damp towel or plastic wrap for 20 to 30 minutes.
Making the Filling
As your dough is rising, roughly grind the sesame seeds in a grinder or blender. Once ground, add sugar, honey, and the pinch of salt and mix well.
Once the dough has risen, tear off a small piece of dough for a roughly 1-inch ball. Roll the dough between your palms for a ball shape then press your thumbs into the ball to make a well and expand the opening outward. Place a ½ teaspoon of filling into the well and seal tightly by squeezing the edges together to resemble a half-moon. Repeat this process with each color dough before cooking.
In a steamer, boil water and place a thin layer of pine needles or a damp cloth on the steamer insert. Boil the water over high heat and when it starts to steam, place the rice cakes on the steamer insert so they aren’t touching. Cover with another layer of pine needles, if available. Cover and steam for about 20 minutes. Prepare a large bowl of cold water and, using a large spoon or tongs, remove the cakes from the steamer and drop them into the water for a quick dunk. After rinsing, drop them into a colander to drain. Lightly coat your hands with the sesame oil and rub the oil onto the rice cakes. Serve at room temperature or warmer.
As Seollal approaches, these are the perfect snacks to make for your traditional holiday celebration!
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