대추 jujube and 밤 raw chestnuts on the chuseok memorial table
It was Korean Thanksgiving – chuseok – this weekend so we stayed with my parents-in-law on Saturday night since the ceremony is held early on chuseok morning. A lot of the cooking for the ceremony is done the day before but there’s still a lot to be done in the morning – making namul, preparing fish and beef, not to mention filling all the special dishes for the memorial table – then dishes have to be laid out on the table in a certain order. Read more about chuseok and the food for the memorial service table here.
One of the traditional foods at chuseok is songpyeon – rice cakes with a sweet sesame filling. There are lots of different kinds of rice cakes for different occasions but songpyeon rice cakes symbolise the moon and they have to be made with this year’s new rice especially for thanksgiving.
My mother-in-law steams the songpyeon with pine needles for added aroma and I think this is to stop them sticking together too – after steaming them we have to pick all the pine needles off the rice cakes but the songpyeon then start sticking to everything in sight – each other, my fingers, stray pine needles, the plate …
But I learned the secret to stopping them sticking like this – to cover them in a few drops of sesame oil. Otherwise there’s a danger of ending up with one great big multi-coloured rice cake! The sesame oil adds a nutty flavour too. Right, I’m off to have a cup of green tea and some leftover rice cakes.