Posted by shinshine

The first full moon day (정월대보름; jeong wol dae bo reum or dae bo reum) of the year by lunar calendar, which is February 28th this year, is recognized as one of the five traditional Korean holidays.  Yet maybe because it comes so soon after the double celebrations of the new year, or the daeboreum activities such as jwi bul nori (쥐불놀이) happen in big open fields (plus playing with fire was never part of my family tradition), it became a healthy eating day for my family – which wasn’t too different from other days.  As a kid, daeboreum food was not exactly the most exciting part.  My sister had fun cracking shelled walnuts with her nutcracker that she got as a Christmas gift for about 5 walnuts, then it was time to move on to more exciting things in life.  Some of the traditional daeboreum food include:

  • 5 grains and beans rice (오곡밥; oh gok bap) – usually made with glutinous rice, red beans, black beans, millet, and sorghum, +/- your favorite/not-so-favorite grains and beans.
  • Assortment of vegetables (나물; na mul) – traditionally this is the day to clean out the dried vegetables stored for the winter.
  • Glutinous rice flavored with chestnuts, dates, pine nuts and brown sugar (약식; yak shik or yak sik)
  • Nuts with hard shells – wishing for no skin problems and a healthy set of teeth in the new year by cracking the nuts with teeth, a tradition called bu reum (부럼)
  • Chilled rice wine in the early morning –  wishing for hearing well, or hearing only good news in the new year, a tradition called gui bal gi sul (귀밝이술)

I’ve become more appreciative of the seemingly simple daeboreum food because each element in one bowl and one plate requires careful preparation of its own.  With 5 or more grains and beans, they cannot be just mixed together and left alone to be cooked in a rice cooker, which will result in undercooked beans and porridge-like rice and a whole range of textures in-between.  A pressure cooker simplifies a few steps, but beans still need to be pre-soaked.  Dried vegetables require soaking in water and cooking separately to bring out the flavors of their own.  All the effort results in deceivingly simple, clean-tasting dishes.

In recent years, my own celebration of daeboreum has been limited to looking for the full moon at night.  Something that seems to capture more of the spirit of daeboreum is an oven baked rice cake commonly known as LA chap ssal tteok (LA 찹쌀떡).  For a while, every time I made this, I added more and more beans, nuts, and dried fruits, using the base batter to hold everything together.  Right out of the oven, the edges are crispy and the inside is sticky-soft.  Once it’s cooled to room temperature, I cut it into smaller pieces, wrap them in plastic, and keep them in the freezer.  Then I take one with me when I know I’ll have a long day out – it thaws nicely and tastes just like sticky tteok as it should (without the crispiness) in a couple of hours.  It’s filling and loaded with energy boosting ingredients – ohgokbap and bureum in one, a tteok version of trail mix and energy bars.  For these reasons, I have re-named my version as energy tteok.

The receipe below makes one block of about 11″x7″x1″ (about 28x18x2.5cm).  If you make this for the crispiness of oven-baked tteok and plan to finish it all right after baking, you can spread it on a cookie sheet pan to maximize the crust part.

Here is how you can start making your own energy tteok.

Dry Base ingredients) 2 Cups (C) glutinous rice flour (찹쌀가루; chap ssal ga ru, mochiko or sweet rice flour), 1 teaspoon (ts) baking powder, 1/2 ts salt, 2 Tablespoon (TBSP) sugar –> mix well.

Wet Base ingredients) 1 egg, 1 1/2 C milk –> mix well.

Additions) 1/4 C dried plums, 1/2 C dried cranberries, 1/2 C toasted pecans, 1/4 C toasted sunflower seeds, 2 C boiled, drained chickpeas

1. Pre-heat the oven to 350F/180C.  * Grease a baking pan.  * Line the pan with greased parchment paper. *This is the most important step.  Without the greased lining, you will get tteok stuck to the pan.  You lose most of tteok and the pan is a pain to clean up.  Believe me, I know this part too well.

2. Mix dry ingredients and wet ingredients together.  The consistency should be pretty thick, yet still runny enough to pour into the pan.

3. Fold in dried fruits, nuts, then beans separately, in the order of sturdy to soft ingredients.

4. Bake for 60-70 minutes or until the top becomes golden and a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.

5. Cool to room temperature before cutting.  Wrap individual pieces in plastic and freeze for longer storage.

Additions above – variety and ratio – are a suggestion and my favorite combination these days.  I’ve also used kidney beans, black beans, toasted walnuts, almonds, dried dates, dried apricots…  Just make sure beans are cooked before folding into the base batter.  Also, fold in from the sturdiest ingredients (usually dried fruits) to the softest (cooked beans).

Happy Daeboreum!

full moon보름(bo reum)
walnut호두(ho du)

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