Songpyeon, half-moon shaped rice cake, is a must-have Chuseok delicacy. The sweet, earthy flavor of beets, and their vibrant red color works beautifully with the songpyeon dough.
The weather has cooled down, the trees are changing colors, and the persimmons in my backyard are ripening. I absolutely love this time of year! Over the last couple of days, Koreans have been celebrating Chuseok (추석). Also referred to as Hangawi (한가위), it’s a mid-autumn/harvest festival, which takes place on the 15th day of the 8th lunar month.
Families gather, give thanks to their ancestors, and enjoy a great time together sharing abundant foods. As the old Korean saying goes, “No more, no less, just be like Hangawi”! Enjoy this beautiful, bountiful season!
I love the sweet, earthy flavor of beets, and their vibrant red color works beautifully with the songpyeon dough.
In this updated recipe, I used beet boiled water to create natural red color. You can easily adjust the color by reducing the water more or less. If you like strong red color, you can use the beet puree by roasting it first in the oven and puree in a blender.
Songpyeon is stuffed with a sweet filling and traditionally steamed on a bed of pine needles, hence the name songpyeon (“song” in “songpyeon” means pine tree). I’m lucky to have quite a few pine trees in my backyard.
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
Songpeon, half-moon shaped rice cake, made with natural beet coloring
In a small sauce pan, boil 2 to 3 slices (about 1/4-inch thick) in 1 cup of water until the water is reduced to about a half.
Sift the rice powder into a bowl. Add 4 tablespoons of hot beet water, quickly stirring it in with a spoon. Add more beet water if the dough is too dry, 1 teaspoon at a time.
Knead, pressing and stretching with the heel of the hand. Fold and rotate the dough. Repeat the kneading process for 2 to 3 minutes. (If the dough sticks to your hands or the bowl after some kneading, it's too wet. Add a little more rice powder. If the dough breaks easily or is too stiff, it's too dry. Add more beet water, 1 teaspoon at a time.)
Cover the dough with plastic wrap or a damp towel. Let it rest for 20 to 30 minutes.
Roughly grind the sesame seeds in a grinder or blender. Add the sugar, honey, and pinch of salt. Mix well until the honey is evenly distributed.
To assemble, tear off a small piece of the dough enough to make a roughly 1-inch ball. Roll tightly between your palms to shape a ball.
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. Place 1/2 teaspoon of the filling in the well and press it down. Seal tightly by squeezing the edges together.
This recipe was originally posted in September 2015. I’ve updated it here with new photos and improvements to the recipe.