You may think of rice as just one well-known and widely used ingredient around the world, you may think of it as the staple Asian contribution to diverse cuisines around the world, but in general, there’s not much thought given to what it means to the culture that gave rice such an distinguished place in gastronomy.
There appears to be a clear difference between people and culture in the West and people in the East. People in Eastern Asia are said to think, work and live as a group and there’s rice to thank for that because rice farming is what originates a collective mindset. Rice farming is so influential that it shaped the culture, and the language. Proverbs, idiomatic expressions, even names of special dishes are directly related to rice farming.
Rice in desserts
Rice is not only central in terms of cultural significance, it’s also essential in their diet. Rice is incredibly versatile and can be used in so many different ways, including in desserts. We all have rice in our kitchen cupboards, so there is no reason not to give it a go.
Homemade rice pudding is a very popular option in that region, and every country has found a way to make rice their own, adapting a classic element to their own likings and cultural needs.
Yaksik, a Korean delicacy
Yaksik is a Korean rice cake made out of rice, honey and dried fruits. It’s a healthy treat and that’s included in the name. Yaksik literally means “healthy food”. Moreover, it’s quite an important cultural dish, as it’s typically eaten during the first full moon of the Lunar New Year and it symbolises family and good health. It’s easily made and so flavour-packed that you can’t miss the opportunity to give this treat a chance.
- 2 cups of glutinous or sweet rice.
- ¼ cup of sugar.
- 1 cup of dark brown sugar.
- ½ tbsp of cinnamon powder.
- 2 tbsp of soy sauce.
- 1 tbsp of cooking oil.
- 1 tbsp of sesame oil.
- Pine nuts.
- Get the glutinous rice ready by washing two cups of it and then rinse it several times. Let the rice soaked in water for at least four hours. You can do this the night before and let the rice soak overnight.
- In a big pot, place ¼ cups of white sugar to make the caramel. Add two tablespoons of water and take it to the heat. Let it cook for five minutes without stirring and make it come to a boil. Once it boils, take the heat to low and keep cooking until it’s golden. Move the pot around a little bit, but do not stir.
- Turn the heat off, add two extra tablespoons of water and move the pot around. Caramel sauce is ready! Set aside.
- In a steamer, pour four cups of water and, in the basket of the steamer, pour two cups of glutinous rice covered with a cotton cloth. Cook on a medium heat for forty minutes. After twenty minutes, turn the rice over so that it cooks evenly.
- In the meantime, mix a cup of dark brown sugar, two tablespoons of soy sauce, half a tablespoon of cinnamon powder and two tablespoons of cooking oil and one of sesame oil. Mix and stir so that the sugar dissolves and everything blends together. Set aside.
- Over a chopping board, wash and cut the jujubes. Take them to a bowl and mix them with the pine nuts, raisins and the chestnuts.
- In that same bowl, add the cooked rice, the seasoning sauce and the caramel. Add ¼ cup of honey and give everything a good, good mix so that you get kind of a paste.
- Take the mix back to the basket of the steamer covered with the cotton cloth and add one cup of water. Cook on a simmer for an extra twenty minutes.
- After that time, place the mix on a flat pan covered with some foil. Let it sit and cool down for a while and once it’s cool, flip the pan around over a cutting board to serve.
- If you can’t find jujubes in your area, replace them with dried cranberries.
- You can cut the cake into squares, foil them up and freeze them. Re-heat before serving. Perfect for lunchboxes!