Harvest Moon Festival
The great middle of Autumn is upon us.
🍂🎋 Right now the three-day Korean Harvest Moon Festival Chuseok is being celebrated. The holiday also marks the rice harvest🌾and Chuseok is a time when people make wishes as they gaze at the full moon and pay homage to their ancestors, 🌕🙌🏼 thanking them for the harvest season. The holiday has been compared to Americans' Thanksgiving.
Most importantly though, this is a festival where you have feast of songpyeon! Songpyeon contain different fillings like sesame seeds and honey or chestnut, and are steamed over a layer of pine needles.🌲The name itself tells us this, because song means pine tree and pyon means steamed rice cake. 🌲🍚
There are also regional differences in the fillings you will find. Some places are known to have potato, corn and bean crops, others specialize in arrowroot, and still others have a distinctive songpyon with acorn filling.
Historically, many believe these treats are in the shape of the half-moon 🌓 because Korean ancestors thought the full moon can only wane and a crescent shape/half-moon would fill up.
In Seoul, one amazing tradition is to make five color songpyeon. The dish represents the harmony of nature. White treats are simply the plain songpyeon, cinnamon powder gives a brownish hue, pink is made with a berry syrup, mugwort makes the greens, and gardenia seeds make a yellow hue.
Happy Harvest M🌕🌕N and enjoy your 송편! (Songpyeon!)!
RECIPE from SAVEUR
And if you want to try to make the storied songpyeon at home, try this recipe from SAVEUR Magazine which makes 40 songpyeon.
2 1⁄2 cups rice flour
1⁄4 cup dried adzuki (red beans), rinsed
3 tbsp. honey, plus more for serving
1 tbsp. sugar
Freshly grated nutmeg
1⁄4 cup roasted and peeled chestnuts
1⁄4 cup toasted sesame seeds
1 tbsp. sesame oil
To make the dough, mix the rice flour with 1 1⁄4 cups hot tap water in a medium bowl and knead until a smooth dough comes together. Form into a disk and wrap in plastic until ready to use.
In a 1-qt. saucepan, bring the red beans and 2 cups of water to a simmer and cook until tender, 30 minutes. Drain the beans and spread onto a baking sheet; let dry for 1 hour. Transfer beans to a mini food processor with 1 tablespoon honey, 1 teaspoon sugar, a pinch of salt, and a pinch of nutmeg and grind into a paste. Transfer to a bowl and set aside. Wipe the food processor clean and add the chestnuts with another 1 tablespoon honey, 1 teaspoon sugar, a pinch of salt, and a pinch of nutmeg and grind into a paste. Transfer to another bowl and set aside. In a spice grinder, grind the sesame seeds into a paste, transfer to a bowl and mix with the remaining 1 tablespoon of honey, 1 teaspoon of sugar, a pinch of salt, and a pinch of nutmeg until incorporated.
Divide the dough into 40 tablespoon-size balls, about 1-inch in diameter, and using your thumb, push in the center of each ball to make a well. Scoop 1 teaspoon of one of the three fillings into the center and close it back up into a ball. Using your hands, mold the ball into a half-moon. Repeat this process alternating between the three fillings; you should end up with 10 sesame-filled cakes, 10 chestnut-filled cakes, and 20 red bean-filled cakes.
Using a bamboo steamer set in a pan of simmering water, steam the rice cakes in batches until cooked through, about 25 minutes. Transfer to a platter and brush with sesame oil. Serve with honey for dipping.