Last week was Chuseok in Korea – or “Korean Thanksgiving” if you will. In Korea, this is one of the largest holidays and probably also one of the most horrific traffic days of the year. During this time families get together and eat lots of really great fancy foods, pay respect to elders and ancestors, and eat lots of traditional Korean snacks. Gifts are often given as well – not like Christmas but more like large pretty fruit baskets or nicely wrapped traditional snacks. Edible gifts are always fantastic!
Being a newlywed, I wanted to make something for my in laws and family. One of my favorite Korean snacks is tteok (rice cake) i. love. tteok. There are so many different kinds. Ones that are sticky, more grainy, stuffed with beans or honey, or with added dried fruits, nuts, and the list really goes on and on. I like them all (or at least most).
Making rice cake is not always the easiest ordeal and I was not about to explore into the unknown only a few days before I had to hand deliver these! And then, I found the “LA Chapssaltteok” i.e. LA Sticky Rice Cake. A type of rice cake made by Koreans who when first immigrated to the US (LA) didn’t have an easy way to make the traditional form of rice cake (often steaming) and baked them instead! These are very chewy in the center like a traditional chapssaltteok but have nicely browned crust on the edges from baking. Really a great combination of texture.
The best part is – they are so easy to make! and healthy! People will think you mulled hours into this like usual rice cake but in fact, it takes only a few minutes. You can really adjust the amount of nuts, dried fruit, beans that are used to your liking. Often chestnuts and jujubes are used as well but I didn’t have the latter two so I stuck to what I had around the home. The secret ingredient to this rice cake was the cranberry – it added just the chewy sweetness for the nutty and filling aroma of the beans and nuts. Make sure you add cranberry or a form of dried fruit!