Hwajeon is a light, fluffy rice cake that makes a great dessert or snack. With a flower on top it’s almost too beautiful to eat!
Whenever I find beautiful edible flowers in the farmer’s market, I immediately feel like making hwajeon. This is what happened to me in Union Square Market here in Manhattan recently, and this video is a result! I orginally filmed a video for hwajeon in 2009, but that video is blocked in some countries because of the background music I used, so this is a remake.
In Korea hwajeon are often made with edible azalea flowers which bloom wild in the mountains in springtime. People used to go out for a picnic in the early spring, bringing a heavy pan and some ingredients. They would pick the azaleas or any other edible flowers they could find, and then make and pan-fry rice cakes right there in the mountains!
I can imagine how much fun that must have been, and what a great mood everyone must have been in, eating these rice cakes in the mountains, in the fresh springtime breeze after a long winter. No matter the season, these rice cakes put anyone in a good mood! Enjoy the recipe!
- ½ cup sweet rice flour (glutinous rice flour)
- punch of salt
- ¼ cup hot boiling water
- 3 tablespoons sugar
- 3 tablespoons water
- 2 teaspoons vegetable oil
- edible flowers
- Put sugar and water in a small sauce pot. Cook over very low heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Don’t stir it with a spoon, just make sure it gets well combined in the pot by swirling the pot every now and then.
- Remove from the heat and cool down. Set aside.
Make rice cakes:
- Combine sweet rice flour and salt in a bowl.
- Add ¼ cup hot water and mix well with a wooden spoon until the dough has cooled enough that you can knead it by hand.
- Knead the dough until it’s smooth, then divide it into 5 equal-sized pieces. Roll each piece into a ball. Keep them covered with a piece of plastic wrap so they don’t dry out.
- Press each rice cake ball into a disc about 2½ inches (6 to 7 cm) in diameter.
- Heat up a non-stick pan over medium high heat. Add 2 teaspoons vegetable oil, swirling the pan to coat the surface. Once it’s heated up, turn the heat down very low. The key to beautiful hwajeon is to keep them white by pan-frying over low heat.
- Put the rice cakes on the pan and cook them for a few minutes. When the bottoms are slightly crispy turn them over and flatten them out with a spatula. Cook a few more minutes.
- Place edible flowers on the top of each rice cake, then flip them over and press them down for 1 or 2 seconds so that the flower gets slightly cooked and sticks to the cake.
- Cook each one and put them on a serving plate.
- Drizzle the syrup on top of the rice cakes.
- Serve with tea as a dessert or snack.