To someone who’s never had Korean rice cakes or tteok, it’s hard to describe what they are all about as there are endless varieties and types.

Here is one recipe of a cake-type tteok based on normal Korean rice (not glutinous rice) which is steamed resulting in a crumbly and slightly chewy texture.

I think of Korean rice cakes as a tasty and healthier alternative to wheat-based snacks since they’re essentially fat-free and can be made with very low amount or no added sugar.  But know that most times tteok is bought in a store, first of all, it may not taste good if it’s not really fresh, and secondly, it normally has a lot more sugar added.

Since finishing level 1 & 2 tteok classes at the Institute of Traditional Korean Foods last winter, I’ve been wanting to try some recipes at home.  My excuse of not…  well, it can be a pain in the ass to get rice flour in Korea!!

A bit ironic that you can buy rice flour in shops, in say, Canada or US, but in Korea, it seems that the only way to get rice flour is:

  1. order it on the internet (so I hear), or
  2. have the rice milled at a tteok shop, which is in every single neighborhood in Korea

I went with option 2.  That means buying rice, soaking for 8-12 hours (ok, I only did 5hrs), then drain for 1 hour, and finally, carry the rice to your local tteok shop for milling.

The good news is that you can keep the rice flour for a long time in the freezer.  So with the rice flour I had on hand after entering the tteok competition last Friday, I made this cake-style tteok today using a bamboo steamer as the mold for the cake.

Yum... fresh rice cake is the best. My breakfast today with a cup a coffee.

This recipe is a result of a bit of improvisation based on what my Mom wanted:  baeksargi, which is the name of “white tteok” in Korean, studded with black beans and daechu.  The black beans give a nice texture contrast and flavour to the tteok, and is a common addition to white tteok.  The daechu also adds a different texture, flavour and provides most of the natural sweetness.

I am happy with this recipe because it’s simple, relatively high on healthiness factor due to the black beans and daechu, and most importantly, it was darn tasty.

White Rice Cake with Black Beans and Daechu

Makes 1 round cake, about 4-6 servings

Ingredients:

  • 350g rice flour
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • about 1/2 cup water
  • 150g black beans, soaked overnight
  • 2 Tbsp organic raw cane sugar
  • 10 dried daechu

special equipments:

  • large steamer (must fit the bamboo steamer tray)
  • 4″ diameter bamboo steamer
  • sieve for sifting rice flour
  • large kitchen towel or kitchen muslin
  • large bowl
  • parchment paper or normal white paper

Preparation:

1.  In a small pot, add soaked beans and cover with water.  Bring to a boil, and simmer for about 25-30 minutes until cooked.  Drain, and mix in sugar.

2.  While cooking the beans, prepare the bamboo steamer.   Take a piece of paper, and fold into quarter, then fold over twice again to make a skinny wedge shape.  Then, place the tip of the wedge in the center of the steamer and fold the paper to mark the edge of the steamer.  Cut that mark with scissors, and make 4-5 slits along both sides of the wedge.  Now, open up the paper and you’ll see a round paper with lots of slits throughout (which allow for the steam to enter).   Line the bottom of the bamboo steamer with the cut paper.  With a brush or with your fingers, coat the bottom and sides very lightly with vegetable oil.

2.  Remove the seeds from each daechu, and then slice thinly, about 0.2mm.

3.  Measure the rice flour and salt in a bowl.  Then, into a large bowl, sieve the rice flour/salt mix.  Add water bit at a time, mixing with fingers and rubbing the flour with the palms of your hands.   Sieve the mix again and set aside.

4.  Add the cooked beans and sliced daechu to the rice flour mix.  Gently toss with fingers to incorporate evenly.

5.  Pour the rice cake mix to the prepared bamboo steamer.  Level the top flat.

6.  Add water to the large steamer.  When it starts to boil, add the rice cake in bamboo to the steamer.  When it starts to boil again (you should see some steam escaping on the side), start timing 15 minutes for steaming.

7.  Turn off heat, and let stand for 5 minutes.  Take the cake out of the steamer and let it cool for another 5 minutes.  Then place a flat plate or tray on top, and flip.  Remove the bamboo and peel off the paper gently.

8.  Enjoy right away!  If not, let it cool completely and wrap in plastic wrap.  Otherwise, it will go dry very quickly.  To keep it for more than 1 day, wrap it well and keep in the freezer.

Rice flour with black beans and daechu

Rice cake going in the steamer.

I’ve always thought of oysters as a special food to enjoy with a glass of crisp white wine, always raw, on the half shell with a little lemon wedge and perhaps a drop or two of Tabasco sauce.

In Korea, it’s a little different.  Oysters are not only eaten raw (perhaps dipped in a little gochujang and vinegar sauce), but it’s also used as an ingredient in many foods, no-less in the ubiquitous kimchi.  I was happy to find oysters are so plentiful in the winter that fresh oysters comes conveniently bagged in water, already shucked. When it’s plentiful, it is pretty cheap, only 2,300 won for 150g of oyster meat at the local E-mart.  You can also get wild oyster, a bit more expensive and smaller, but I prefer the farmed ones as they are meatier and juicier.

Lately it’s become a regular breakfast item because oysters are really nutritious, like a daily dose of vitamins and minerals.  Though you can’t beat raw oysters for the juicy, ocean brine flavour, serving it up pan-fried is a close second – think oyster omelets, a great banchan, or a salad topper – and as well, better chance of avoiding a bad case of food poisoning.

PAN FRIED OYSTERS (GUL-JEON)

  • 150g fresh oyster
  • 2 Tbsp flour
  • 1 egg
  • 1 green onion, sliced (optional)
  • ¼ tsp salt or to taste
  • vegetable oil for pan frying

1.  To clean the oysters, drain out the water and give the oysters a good rinse in salt water (use about 1 Tbsp of sea salt).  Rinse once or twice with fresh water (otherwise I find it too salty).  Drain well, and set aside.

2.  Prepare 2 separate dishes: one with flour and a pinch of salt mixed in, and second with an egg beaten with a pinch of salt.  Add the sliced green onion to the egg.

3.  One by one, dust both sides of the oysters in the flour, shake off excess, then dunk in the egg mix on both sides.

4.  In a heated pan, sear the battered oysters on medium heat for about 2 minutes on each side.   Alternatively, instead of doing it one by one, you can add several oysters on the pan together with the egg like an omelete.  Add an extra minute or two to heat through.

5.  You can serve it with typical Korean soy sauce dip if you want (1 Tbsp soy sauce, ¼ tsp apple vinegar, pinch of black pepper).