Super-nutritious rice cake

Yeongyang-chaltteok 영양찰떡

I’m going to show you a very popular and well-loved Korean rice cake, Yeongyang-chaltteok (영양찰떡). I call it super-nutritious rice cake in English because it’s made with all nutritious ingredients: black beans, pine nuts, jujubes, honey, and rice flour. It’s not only super-nutritious, it’s also super-delicious! The rice cake is sweet and chewy, the chestnuts fluffy, the little pine nuts so cute, and the jujube is sweet and soft and a little tangy when cooked.

You’ve probably seen this rice cake sold premade at a Korean grocery store. I always pick it up when I’m at the store and my daughter loves this rice cake, too, so I decided to develop my own recipe for it. It took a lot of experimenting to get it right, especially for the beans and the frozen chestnuts. If the beans are not right, the rice cake isn’t delicious! And chestnuts cooked this way with sugar not only taste good, but look beautiful.

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This rice cake can be a great breakfast, too. Just freeze it right after you make it, and thaw out a piece in the morning to start your day with a delicious, nutritious meal!

Ingredients (Serves 8)

  • 1 cup (6 ounces: 170 grams) dried black beans with green kernels, soaked in cold water for 12 hours, and drained
  • 1 pound glutinous rice flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup plus 3 tablespoons cold water
  • 20 to 24 peeled chestnuts (frozen or fresh), cut into halves
  • 1 tablespoon white sugar
  • 16 to 20 large dried jujubes, rinsed, deseeded, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
  • ¼ cup pine nuts

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For syrup:

  • ½ cup rice syrup
  • ½ cup water
  • 2 tablespoons brown (or white) sugar
  • 2 tablespoons honey

Equipment:

  • a large cotton cloth (18 inch x 18 inch)
  • 12 inch steamer

Directions

Make the syrup:

  1. Combine the ingredients for the syrup in a pan, except for honey.
  2. Cook for 5 to 6 minutes over medium heat until it’s bubbling. Stir and remove from the heat.
  3. Let cool for 10 minutes and then stir in the honey. Set aside.

Prepare the chestnuts:

  1. Combine the chestnuts, ¼ cup water, and 1 tablespoon of white sugar in a pan.
  2. Cook for 5 minutes over medium heat, stirring occasionally. The chestnuts will turn yellowish and shiny. Remove from the heat and set aside.

Prepare the super-nutritious ingredients:

  1. Put the beans in a bowl. Using your fingers, remove the skins of a handful of beans, leaving them bright green. Just do a handful of them, for color.
  2. Add jujubes, pine nuts, the chestnuts and about 3 tablespoons syrup. Mix it well and set aside.

Moisten rice flour:

  1. Place the glutinous rice flour in a large bowl and sprinkle the salt over top. Add the water little by little to the flour, mixing up the rice flour and breaking up as many lumps as you can with a wooden spoon or rice scoop as you go.
  2. To totally remove the lumps, put them between your palms, rub them together, and break the lumps apart until all the big lumps are gone and the rice flour is evenly wet. It will take about 2 minutes. Cover and set aside for at least 30 minutes.Super-nutritious rice cake (Yeongyang-chaltteok: 영양찰떡)
    *tip: You can make this moist rice flour in advance. Put it in a plastic bag or an airtight container and refrigerate it for up to 24 hours.

Steam the rice cake:

  1. In a large steamer, bring 2 inches of water to a boil.
  2. Take out the steamer basket. Wet the cotton cloth and spread it on the bottom.
  3. Add about half of the super-nutritious ingredients and spread them evenly on the cotton cloth. The jujubes should be arranged so the bright red part is facing down.
  4. Add the rice flour. Gently flatten it out evenly by hand.
  5. Add the rest of the super-nutritious ingredients and flatten them out evenly. The bright red parts of the jujubes should be facing up.
  6. Wrap the ends of the cloth around the top of the rice cake.
  7. Put the steamer basket with the rice cake inside the steamer. Steam over medium high heat for 40 minutes and another 5 minutes over low heat.
  8. Remove from the heat. Open and let it cool for about 10 minutes until you can handle the rice cake with your hands.
  9. Put some syrup on a large cutting board or a tray. I used my 13 by 9 inch tray, which will help keep the rice cake together as you shape it.
  10. Grab the ends of the cloth of the rice cake and carefully lift it out of the steamer basket, onto the syrup on the cutting board or on the tray. Gently pull out the cloth and spread and shape the rice cake into a rectangle about 13 inches by 9 inches. The rice cake is very hot, so you’ll need to wear rubber gloves and dip your fingers in cold water as you shape the rice cake. Super-nutritious rice cake (Yeongyang-chaltteok: 영양찰떡)Super-nutritious rice cake (Yeongyang-chaltteok: 영양찰떡)

Cool and serve:

  1. Drizzle the rest of the syrup over top. Let cool for about 30 minutes and cut it into 8 equal pieces.Super-nutritious rice cake (Yeongyang-chaltteok: 영양찰떡)
  2. Serve right away or wrap each piece in plastic and freeze. To serve frozen rice cake, first leave it the kitchen counter at room temperature for about 20 to 30 minutes so that it thaws out. Or remove the plastic wrap and put it in the microwave for a minute, then serve.Super-nutritious rice cake (Yeongyang-chaltteok: 영양찰떡)

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