Vegan's Chronicles + Vegan

Chuseok Songpyeon

For this year's Chuseok, my umma and I tried our hand at making our own songpyun! I really wish I had a recipe to post up, but we honestly just winged the whole thing. My mom looked through some recipes online beforehand, to get the general idea of what to do, but other than that, we didn't follow any recipe or measure any of the ingredients (dae-choong, dae-choong~). It's also hard to give precise measurements because everything depends on how dry or wet your rice flour is, or how sweet or mild you prefer your ddeok. For a good recipe, I suggest you check out Maangchi's instructional video.


The three natural food-coloring powders that we used.


Here are our multi-colored ddeok lumps resting in bags before being shaped into balls and stuffed with sweet fillings.


The mung bean filling.


For the toasted sesame seed filling, we first slightly ground up some sesame seeds...


... and then mixed them with some brown sugar and brown rice syrup. You could just use sesame seeds and brown sugar, but we also added some brown rice syrup, for no particular reason (I'm tellin' ya, we totally winged this whole thing!).


Mixed up


As you can see, I wasn't too concerned about making perfect 'moon-shaped' songpyeon (my mom was better at it than me), and I just ended up squeezing them into irregular lumps in my fist. Observe:


A fried egg? I think not!


A little better.


For a few of them, my mom and I tried to get a little fancy by shaping them into flowers. After amusing ourselves like little kids with playdough, it was time to give these babies a good steamin'!


My mom was too funny and actually went outside to pick some pine needles from the trees around the apartment. After thoroughly washing them, we laid them all over the gauze cloth and ddeoks in a steamer. Pine needles apparently add some flavor to the songpyeon, although my unrefined "palate" could hardly notice any difference. :P After around 20 minutes steaming, we dunked them in some ice cold water and a little sesame oil, drained them, and then arranged them on a plate.


Jja-jaaann! (translation: "ta-daaa!")

I don't mean to toot my own horn, but they look so purdy! We impressed ourselves. We were concerned that our songpyeon would be a complete flop because we didn't use any precise measurements and we shaped them so crudely, but they came out beautiful!


Even the ugly ones came out looking better after spending time in the sauna. There's nothing quite like a good steam to cover up all kinds of imperfections. I think the fact that our songpyeon came out as decently as they did is a testament to how forgiving the whole process can be.

Here are the songpyeons with sweet sesame-seed filling:


Please excuse all my bite marks on the ddeok. haha. That's just how I do.


Mung bean ones.

They also tasted surprisingly good! My parents aren't big on sugar, so we kept the fillings more on the bland side, but even still, they were delectable and the texture was nice and chewy. My favorite filling was definitely the sesame seed filling because they were sweeter (oh me and my sweet tooth... ), while my parents preferred the mung bean-filled ones. My dad gave us top marks, and said they were better than store-bought ddeok. Haha. Obviously, he was just indulging us, but it was nice to have our efforts rewarded with such a compliment.


It's funny, but now that I've made my own songpyeon, I feel more Korean than ever. Our humble ddeoks came in all kinds of irregular shapes and sizes, but I reckon they had more character and soul than any store-bought ones. Songpyeon-making is definitely time-consuming, but it's also one of those great family-bonding opportunities. And plus, you just end up feeling so proud of yourself when they come out looking too darn adorable.


Some areas to improve upon for my next songpyeon attempt:

  1. Make the fillings a little sweeter.
  2. Add a little more salt and sugar to the actual rice-cake dough. We only added a very teensy amount of salt to the rice flour and no sugar, so in my opinion, it could've had a little more flavor.
  3. Improve my crescent moon-shaping skillz.
  4. Make more. :P

cooking, ddeok, Korean food, and more:

Relevant to: Chuseok Songpyeon + Vegan