Songpyeon is the food most associated with Chuseok and it’s easier to make than you might think.
Songpyeon (송편) is a traditional Korean rice cake that is commonly made and enjoyed during Chuseok, also known as Korean Thanksgiving Day. Chuseok falls on the 15th day of the 8th month of the lunar calendar, usually in September or October. This year Chuseok is on September 29th. Songpyeon is an essential part of Chuseok celebrations and most people can pick up a few packages at their local Korean grocery store around this time. It’s also quite simple to make it at home with just a few ingredients.
Here’s everything you need to know about these delicious Korean rice cakes:
- Songpyeon holds special cultural significance. Its shape is said to resemble the moon and is associated with wishes for a bountiful harvest and family reunions during Chuseok.
- Some people make it with colorful rice dough by using natural ingredients like suk (mugwort) powder or beet/blueberry juice to create green or pink/purple hues.
Serving and Eating Songpyeon:
- Songpyeon is typically served as a dessert or snack during Chuseok celebrations. It’s enjoyed with family and friends along with other traditional Chuseok dishes.
- It’s customary to offer it to ancestors as part of ancestral rites (Charye) during Chuseok.
- While traditional recipes remain popular, there are also modern variations with innovative fillings like chocolate, cheese, or fruit preserves, appealing to a wider range of tastes.
Songpyeon is not only a delicious treat but also a symbol of Korean culture and tradition. Sharing and making songpyeon together with loved ones is a cherished part of the Chuseok holiday, fostering a sense of togetherness and celebration.
- Rice Flour (Chapssal): Songpyeon is primarily made from Korean rice flour, which gives it a chewy and slightly sticky texture.
- Water (boiled): Used to mix the rice flour and create the dough.
- Filling: These rice cakes are typically filled with a variety of sweet fillings, such as sweet sesame seeds, sweetened mung bean paste or red bean paste (called “paht”), chestnuts, or honey.
- After making the rice dough, set the dough to the side.
- Prepare your filling(s).
- The dough is divided into small pieces, which are then rolled into balls and flattened to create a small round disc.
- The filling is placed in the center of the dough, and the edges are folded up and pinched together to seal the filling inside. It can be shaped in various ways, but the most common shape resembles a half-moon.
- Songpyeon is traditionally steamed over a layer of pine needles or in a bamboo steamer, which infuses a subtle aroma into the rice cakes.
- They are steamed until the dough becomes translucent and soft, which typically takes about 30 minutes.
- Songpyeon is usually served on a bed of pine needles, which adds to the festive and traditional atmosphere of Chuseok.