Happy Year of the Monkey to you all!
We just celebrated Lunar New Year on February 8th. Did you know that this is Dr. Tae Yun Kim‘s Birthday? Traditionally, her birthday is on a different calendar day each year, as the Lunar New Year date changes.
Dr. Tae Yun Kim‘s story has a very sad start – back in those days, in a small rural village in Korea, girls were considered lower than cattle – at least cattle were useful, you could milk them and eat them and trade them for other goods. Girls, on the other hand, required a dowry to marry them off as quickly as possible.
Not only did she never get any birthday cake, but she also was never allowed to taste the traditional New Year rice cakes. Only once was she able to catch a little crumb of a rice cake that contained sorghum flour instead of rice flour, and now she reminisces how much she loved it, and would love to have again.
What a challenge! I browsed through some Korean cook books an blogs and tried to get an idea how to even start on such a thing. The above picture is the result of that experiment, and it sure brought a big smile into Great Grandmaster Tae Yun Kim‘s face! It was close to the traditional “rice” cake and very delicious!
Here is what I did:
Boil (or pressure cook) small red beans until soft and mushy, mash them up with enough honey to make it slightly sweet, and a dash of cinnamon, walnuts and/or boiled chestnuts.
This is the filling.
For the outside dough, I did something entirely non-traditional. I did not want to use sweet and sticky rice flour – not good if you have to watch your carb intake and have diabetes. So I ground up some yucca root total of perhaps 3/4-1 cup and boiled that until it was all gluey. I added enough sorghum flour to form a soft but pliable dough. Then formed small pieces of dough into balls the size of a walnut and flattened them out. I boiled these for about 5 minutes and then fished them out – let them barely cool off and then flattened these pre-cooked disk until they formed a very thin dough. Be careful though, the dough is very fragile.
I then put a good heaping teaspoon of filling onto these disks and closed them like you see in the picture, and steamed them for about 1/2 hour.
The result is certainly delicious and worth every moment that you spend making them. They may not be traditional, but you will love the chewiness and sweetness and knowing it’s all good for you!
HE CAN DO, SHE CAN DO, WHY NOT ME!