Songpyeon (Half-moon Shaped Rice Cake)

Korean half-moon shape rice cakes in yellow, green and white colors


Songpyeon is a must-have Chuseok delicacy. These little rice cakes are stuffed with sweet fillings. Learn how to make songpyeon with natural food coloring options!

 

What is Chuseok

Chuseok (추석) is coming up! It’s one of the two most celebrated traditional holidays together with the lunar New Year Day (Seollal, 설날). Also referred to as Hangawi (한가위), it falls on the 15th day of the 8th lunar month – the same day many Asian countries celebrate a Mid-Autumn Festival. Families gather and celebrate the year’s harvest, giving thanks to their ancestors. Women of the house work hard for days leading up to this day to prepare a sumptuous holiday feast. See my 15 Chuseok recipes. In Korea, Chuseok is celebrated over 3 days. 

What is songpyeon

Songpyeon (송편) is a must-have Chuseok delicacy. These small half-moon shaped rice cakes (tteok, 떡) are stuffed with sweet fillings such as sweetened sesame seeds and traditionally steamed on a bed of pine needles. The name songpyeon stems from the use of pine needles, because “song” in “songpyeon” means pine tree. 

Songpyeon recipe (how to make Korean half-moon shaped rice cake)

These little rice cakes are near and dear to my heart, bringing back so many fond memories of this special holiday. A couple of days in advance, we would go to the nearby woods to pick pine needles. Making songpyeon was so much fun!

I remember the excitement I had sitting in front of several colorful huge heaps of dough – as if I was like a child sitting in front of big piles of play dough. But, shaping and stuffing these little guys was also a serious business. There was always a little unannounced competition among us – whose songpyeon looked the best.

My mother used to say I would have a pretty daughter because my songpyeon was pretty. She was right! I developed this recipe, so you can start making these at home, creating a new family tradition and build special memories.

Songpyeon in three colors

How to make songpyeon

Songpyeon dough: Songpyeon is made with short grain rice powder (쌀가루), NOT glutenous (sweet rice) powder (찹쌀가루). Traditionally, Korean home cooks soak short grain rice overnight, drain, and then take to a gristmill to get it ground into fine powder.

While that’s clearly not an option around here, there are bags of frozen wet rice powder for making rice cake (tteok) sold in the freezer section in Korean grocery stores.

I use boiling hot water to make the dough, and then knead until the dough is nice and soft. The longer you knead, the chewier the texture of the rice cake will be.

Natural food coloring: Songpyeon dough is typically flavored and colored with natural ingredients such as mugwort, kabocha, and dried fruit powders.  This recipe shows how to use mugwort powder and kabocha, I also played around with different natural food coloring and came up with a couple of other colors. You can choose any number of options I’ve given here, or use your own food coloring options. Also see my Beet songpyeon recipe for vibrant red color songpyeon. 

Songpyeon filling: The most common filling is made with sweetened sesame seeds. Black soybeans and mung beans are also traditional. This recipe shows how to make it with sesame seeds.  

This recipe was originally posted in September 2012. I’ve updated it here with new photos, created a recipe card with minor changes to the recipe. 

More Chuseok holiday recipes:

Modeumjeon (Fish, Shrimp and Zucchini Pan-fried in Egg Batter)
Galbijjim (Braised Short Ribs)
Japchae (Stir-Fried Starch Noodles with Vegetables)
Nokdujeon (Savory Mung Bean Pancakes)
Sanjeok (Skewered Rice Cake with Beef and Vegetables)
Radish Soup (Mu Guk/Moo Guk)
15 Chuseok Recipes for more.

Have you tried this songpyeon recipe?  Please rate the recipe below by either clicking the stars or leaving a comment! And make sure to share your creations by tagging me on Instagram! Stay in touch by following me on PinterestTwitterFacebook, and Instagram.

Songpyeon recipe (how to make Korean half-moon shaped rice cake)

Songpyeon (half-moon shaped rice cakes)

Songpyeon is a must-have Chuseok (Korean thanksgiving holiday) delicacy. These little rice cakes are stuffed with sweet fillings. Learn how to make songpyeon with natural food coloring options!

  • 2 cups frozen rice powder per batch (20 rice cakes) (labeled 쌀가루 or 쌀떡가루 – a 2 pound-bag yields a little more than 6 cups (3 batches))
  • 4 to 5 ounces pine needles (rinsed 2 – 3 times and air or pat dry (optional))
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil

Natural color option for each batch:

Basic (white dough)

  • 2 cups frozen rice powder (thawed to room temperature)
  • 4 tablespoons plus 1 or 2 teaspoons boiling hot water

Green dough

  • 2 cups frozen rice powder (thawed to room temperature)
  • 1-1/2 to 2 tablespoons mugwort (ssuk garu, 쑥가루) (or matcha/green tea powder)
  • 5 tablespoons plus 1 or 2 teaspoons boiling hot water

Yellow dough

  • 2 cups frozen rice powder (thawed to room temperature)
  • 1/3 cup cooked steaming hot kabocha, (danhobak, 단호박) (1/4 small kabocha steamed in microwave for about 5 minutes)
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 or 2 teaspoons boiling hot water

Purple dough

  • 2 cups frozen rice powder (thawed to room temperature)
  • 4 tablespoons plus 1 or 2 teaspoons boiling hot blueberry juice (1/2 cup fresh or frozen blueberries finely pureed with 1/2 cup water, strained and boiled)

Pink dough

  • 2 cups frozen rice powder (thawed to room temperature)
  • 4 tablespoons raspberry juice (1/2 cup fresh or frozen raspberries finely pureed with 1/2 cup water, strained, and boiled)

Filling: fills about 30 rice cakes (1-1/2 batches)

  • 1/2 cup roasted sesame seeds
  • 2 tablespoons sugar (adjust to your taste)
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • pinch salt

Dough:

  1. For each type of dough, sift the rice powder into a bowl. Prepare the flavoring and liquid ingredients (water/juice/kabochfor each selected color of dough. Add the specified amount of the solid and/or liquid (making sure it’s boiling hoto the rice powder, quickly stirring them in with a spoon.
  2. Knead, pressing and stretching with the heel of the hand. Fold and rotate the dough. Repeat the kneading process for at least 5 minutes. (If the dough sticks to your hands or the bowl after some kneading, it’s too wet. Add more rice powder in 1 tablespoon increments. If the dough breaks easily or is too stiff, it’s too dry. Add more boiling hot water in 1 teaspoon increments.)
  3. Cover the dough with plastic wrap or a damp towel. Let it rest for 20 to 30 minutes.

Filling:

  1. Roughly grind the sesame seeds in a grinder or blender. Add the sugar, honey and pinch of salt. Mix everything together well.

Assemble:

  1. To assemble, tear off a small piece of the dough enough to make roughly 1-inch ball. Roll tightly between your palms to shape a ball.
  2. Make a well in the ball by pressing into it with your thumb, and press outwards, with both of your thumbs, on the inside walls of the well to slightly expand the opening.
  3. Place 1/2 teaspoon of the filling in the well. Seal tightly by squeezing the edges together. Squeeze the whole rice cake lightly in your palm to firm it up. Shape it to resemble a half moon. Repeat until all the dough/filling is used.

Steam and finish:

  1. Boil water in a steamer. Place a thin layer of pine needles or a damp kitchen cloth on the steamer insert. Boil the water over high heat. When it starts to steam, place the rice cakes on the steamer insert without the pieces touching one another. Cover with a thin layer of pine needles, if available. Cover and steam for about 20 minutes.
  2. Prepare a big bowl of cold water. Using a long-handed spoon or tong, remove the rice cakes from the steamer. Drop them in the cold water for a quick rinse, removing all the pine needles. Transfer the rice cakes to a colander to drain. Lightly coat your hands with the sesame oil and rub the oil on the rice cakes in batches. Serve warm or at room temperature

The post Songpyeon (Half-moon Shaped Rice Cake) appeared first on Korean Bapsang.



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