Yakbap, literally “medicinal rice,” is a sweet Korean dish made with glutinous rice, chestnuts, jujubes, and pine nuts. It is seasoned with soy sauce, brown sugar, sesame oil, and sometimes cinnamon. It is traditionally eaten on Jeongwol Daeboreum (정월대보름), a Korean holiday which falls on the 15 of January in the lunar calendar. It is also used in weddings and other festivities. As the name implies, most of the ingredients for dish are thought to be good for your health. So, Korean people eat this dish as good luck for a healthy life and served it during special days to bless or celebrate others who they share it with. The slightly salty, sweet, and chewy rice with nutty and fruity flavors tastes great together. Typically, you would steam the rice, mix together the other ingredients, and then steam it again to make this dish. However, I will show you a shortcut version using a rice cooker. It is simpler to make, but it tastes just as good as the traditional way. Try it someday.
Yield: 15 Round Pieces
Short Korean Lesson
- Yak (약) = Medicine
- GeonGang (건강) = Health
- 2 Cup Uncooked Glutinous Rice
- 1 Cup Chestnuts
- 1 Cup Korean Sweet Potato
- 2 Tbsp Walnuts
- 2 Tbsp Pine Nuts
- 5 Dried Jujubes (¼ Cup)
- 2 Tbsp Raisins
Obtain 2 cups of uncooked glutinous rice (vs. sweet rice). Soak the rice in water overnight (about 8 hours). This process help to make the rice softer after it has been cooked.
8 hours later, drain. You will get about 4 cups of soaked rice. Set it aside while you are preparing the other ingredients.
Mix all the ingredients for the seasoning in a small mixing bowl: 1⅔ cup water, ¼ cup soy sauce, ¼ cup brown sugar, and 1½ Tbsp sesame oil. Stir it until the sugar dissolves. Depending on your tastes, you can add ½ tsp of cinnamon powder. I personally prefer yakbap without cinnamon, so I’m going to skip it today.
Chop 1 cup worth of chestnuts and 1 cup worth of Korean sweet potato into bite-sized pieces. Break 2 Tbsp worth of walnuts into small pieces with your fingers. Obtain 2 Tbsp worth of pine nuts and remove the top parts with your fingers. Obtain 2 Tbsp worth of raisins and 5 dried jujubes (¼ cup). Remove the seeds from the jujubes and cut the skins into thin strips.
Depending on what kind of ingredients you have or want to use, you can switch up the ingredients. Use the same total amount. For example, you can use 2 cups of chestnuts, ¼ cup of walnuts (or pine nuts), and ¼ cup raisins (or dried jujubes) for this recipe. Put the rice in a rice cooker and make the top surface flat.
Put all the dried fruits and nuts on top of the rice evenly.
Pour the seasoning mixture over the rice.
Put the rice in a rice cooker and set the rice cooker setting to the “Mixed Grain” function. It will cook for about an hour, depending on your rice cooker.
After it is done cooking, open the rice cooker and mix all the ingredients gently.
You can put the cooked rice into a square container or baking dish. Spread it evenly and press the top with a spatula to firm the shape. This way you will have a nice shape when you cut it in pieces later. Let it cool for several hours and then cut it. The texture will be more firm and chewy then.
You can also use this method: put some of the cooked rice in molds or small dishes. Firmly push down on the top with a spatula.
Put it upside down over a plate or cutting board.
Tap or shake it gently and the yakbap will fall down onto the plate.
Decorate the yakbap with some pine nuts and dried dates. To make the flower-shaped date pieces, remove the seed from a dried date, roll the skin gently, and then slice the rolled date with a knife.
Wrap individual pieces of yakbap with plastic wrap. This way, it is easier to carry and it helps prevent them sticking together.
It is a great idea to give this delicious traditional Korean food as a gift to somebody you care about. You can eat this as a meal or as a snack food. Enjoy!