Tteok to Try!
When you think of Korean rice cakes, what images come to your mind? Is it of the familiar garaetteok found in tteokbokki? Or is it the songpyeon that are eaten during the Chuseok holiday? While these popular tteok are great, there’s also a wide variety of tteok that don’t get as much culinary spotlight. So, here’s a list of less popular tteok for you to try!
As prime part of Korean culture, baekseolgi are usually eaten during important Korean events and celebrations, such as the 100th day following a child’s birth. Baekseolgi are primarily made of rice flour, salt, and sugar, and are made white to represent purity and perfection. While they traditionally do not come served with toppings, some may choose to put toppings on their baekseolgi for added flavor and color.
Want to add some color to your tteok tasting? If so, mujigaetteok is the perfect choice for you! Mujigae translates to “rainbow,” and mujigaettok is fittingly made by creating a layered rice cake with each layer having its own color! One mujigaetteok is usually made of 3-5 different layers, and they’re commonly served at weddings or the first birthday of babies. While food coloring can be used to achieve the different layer colors, some use ingredients like cocoa powder, matcha powder, and more in order to give both a unique color and taste!
Unlike other rice cakes, bukkumi are actually pan-fried rather than steamed or pounded. Additionally, these rice cakes are actually filled with fillings like sweet red beans or mung bean paste as well! Bukkumi actually resemble a typical dumpling as a result of their crescent-like appearance, making them fairly uniquely shaped when compared to other tteok. Fry them just right, and you’ll have an amazing dish that’s both soft, chewy, sweet, and crispy all at the same time!
One of the most aesthetically-pleasing rice cakes, hwajeon is well known for both its light and fluffy texture as well as the common inclusion of edible flowers on the top of the rice cakes! Much like bukkumi, hwajeon are made via pan-frying. As a result, picnics involving hwajeon are quite popular when edible flowers are in bloom. On this picnics, people will simply pack the needed hwajeon dough, and bring a frying pan to cook the hwajeon while picking the edible flowers from their surroundings!
The world of tteok is vast and contains a multitude of rice cakes, each unique in its own way. While cylindrical garaetteok and Chuseok’s songpyeon often come up when tteok are discussed, it’s also important to show love to the less-well-known tteok varieties. Tteok come in various textures, temperatures, and taste, so be sure to try whatever interests you! What tteok have you tried before? What, if any, is your favorite?
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Written by Kyle Voong