Songpyeon is traditionally shared during Chuseok—the Mid-Autumn, or Harvest, Festival in Korean culture. Similar to the American day of Thanksgiving, Chuseok is a time of gratitude and family gathering, as well as respect and prayer to ancestors. Families then celebrate by spending time with one another and sharing feasts of traditional foods and delicacies.
Chuseok is the celebration of Mid-Autumn in Korean culture but is also celebrated in many other Asian countries, including China, Taiwan, Japan, Vietnam, Thailand, and Indonesia just to name a few.
Songpyeon, or half-moon rice cakes, are one of the traditional delicacies that are often shared during this time of year. These rice cakes are often stuffed with sweet fillings like mung bean, red bean, and sesame then steamed on a bed of pine needles for a special hint of flavor. Songpyeon can also come in a variety of colors including purple, green, white, and black. In this recipe, we’ll be making green, purple, and white rice cakes.
While making the filling for these treats cans be somewhat easy, kneading the dough at the right temperature can be the most difficult part. The outcome, though, is a soft, sweet, and chewy dessert that can be shared with everyone in the family.
Watch my episode on Cathlyn’s Korean Kitchen where I share recipes for special occasions, including galbi burger, persimmon eggnog, and more on YouTube!
- Red/Purple Cabbage Leaves
- 2 tbsp. of cranberry juice
- 2 tbsp. mugwort powder
- 1 qtr. cup of sesame seeds
- 1 cup red azuki beans
- 1 cup mung bean
- 3 cups sweet rice powder
- 1 qtr. cup mugwort powder
- Pine Needles
- Boil red/purple cabbage leaves until the water turns a fair purple color. Remove into a small bowl and add cranberry juice, mix.
- Boil red azuki beans with 3 cups of water (1:3 ratio) until soft. Remove and place into a separate bowl and add a tsp of sugar.
- Simmer mung bean and a pinch of salt in 1 cup of water on low heat for 30 minutes. Remove and place in a separate bowl.
Mixing the Dough
- Fill three different bowls with 1 cup of sweet rice powder.
- Bowl 1: add a pinch of salt and hot pink coloring mixture until kneadable dough forms. Knead for 3-4 minutes.
- Bowl 2: Add mugwort powder and a pinch of salt. Add boiling water a little bit at a time, mixing until kneadable. Knead for 3-4 minutes
- Bowl 3: Add boiling water and mix until kneadable. Knead for 3-4 minutes.
The key to making your dough is to make sure that the water added is very hot. Mix and knead evenly while pouring water inside.
Fold & Steam
- Break a 1-inch piece of dough into your hands and roll into a ball. Press your thumb in the center to create space for the filling.
- Add any filling into the middle of the circle, and cover by sealing the edges with your thumb and index finger.
- Repeat for each color dough with any of the fillings until finished.
- Place a damp cloth on the bottom of your steamer and place a thin layer of pine needles.
- Place rice cakes in a single later on top of the pine needles. Steam for up to 20 minutes per batch.