Songpyeon(송편 – “Song” means pine tree, “Pyeon” means steamed rice cake) is a traditional Korean dessert made with rice. It belongs to the group of Korean rice cakes called tteok, and is traditionally eaten during Chuseok(추석), Korean autumn harvest festival, in which families gather, celebrate harvest and give thanks to their ancestors.

Songpyeon is a half-moon shaped rice cake -it’s appearance in the photo may remind you of mandu- with a sweet or semi-sweet filling. It is usually made by kneading rice powder with hot water and stuffing the dough with fillings. Different fillings can be used, such as sesame seeds, honey, mung beans or chestnut paste steamed over pine needles, which gives songpyeon a smell of fresh pine trees. Songpyeon can be made into several different colors with unique flavors using different types of rice powder and dough. In US, you can buy bags of frozen wet rice powder made specifically for making rice cakes. They can be found in freezer sections of most Korean grocery stores.

Songpyeon is one of the main dishes served during Chuseok. It can be bought at street markets or stores but it is also one of the most popular home-made foods during the holiday. Families make their own songpyeon and give it to their relatives and neighbors. Giving songpyeon to a neighbor is seen as an act of showing your respect. Also, making a beautiful songpyeon is very important as it is believed that if you can make a beautiful songpyeon, you will have a beautiful daughter.

The size, shape and ingredients may vary according to which region they are made in Korea. For example, people in Seoul prefer making smaller bite-sized songpyeon.

There are different stories regarding the shape of songpyeon. Many people believe that it has the half-moon shape because ancestors thought that the full moon can only wane and a half-moon would fill up. Earliest records of this sweet date from the Goryeo period.

If you are looking for an original sweet to serve your guests, I suggest giving this one a try!

Main Ingredients: Rice flour, bean powders, filling ingredients of your choice

Songpyeon Gallery

Songpyeon Recipes

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Photo: Korean Culture and Information Service

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