Yakbap (or yaksik) is a Korean dessert made with sweet glutinous rice, nuts and jujubes (Korean dates). The historic treat dates back to the Samguk Era, when, in the year 488 King Soji received a warning that the queen was trying to have him killed. The king saved himself and since then, January 15 has become a day of rememberence.
What started out as eating glutinous rice in honor of this day became yakbap, with nuts and sweetener added to it. Since then, Koreans eat yakbap on Jeongwal Daeboreum, the full moon in January. It’s also served at weddings and celebrations, and otherwise enjoyed as a healthy sweet treat, similar to granola bars.
Sticky rice might sound tough to work with, but Lee has a fun hack. She coats her knife blade with sesame oil, which adds flavor and makes it easy to cut through the sticky rice. And then later, like any good snack bar, it has a make-ahead option as well. “Yakbap is best eaten fresh, but it it can be sliced up and individually wrapped and frozen to enjoy later,” says Lee. “Then, use the steamer option in your rice cooker to heat up your rice cake to enjoy as if it’s just been made!”
Korean Medicine Rice Cake (Yakbap)
This recipe was written in partnership with Williams Sonoma’s Destination: Korea Collection.
- 3 cups sweet rice
- 5-6 dried fruit jujube
- ¼ cup chopped chestnuts
- 1 tsp sesame oil
- ¼ cup chopped walnuts
- ¼ cup pine nuts
- ½ cup dark brown sugar
- 1 tsp cinnamon powder
- ¼ cup soy sauce
- ¼ cup water
- Rinse and soak sweet rice in cold water for at least 2 hours.
- Use a damp kitchen towel to wipe each jujube dried fruit and cut around the pit inside. Then cut into small thin strips.
- Finely chop chestnut and walnut into small chunks. Tip: Use cooked and peeled chestnuts to save time.
- Make your caramel sauce by adding the ingredients and stir over low heat until sugar is melted and sauce is thicker and caramelized (about 10 minutes). Set it aside to cool down.
- Drain any remaining water from the soaked rice, add chopped jujube and nuts with the caramel sauce in the rice cooker. Stir to mix everything well together.
- Using Williams Sonoma’s Zoijrushi Rice Cooker, add 1.5 cup of water to make rice on sweet rice setting. (Should take about 50 minutes.)
- Mix the cooked rice with little bit of sesame oil. Line a 2-inch deep baking pan (an 8” X 8” pan is ideal) with plastic wrap and spread the mixture out evenly, pressing it down flat.
- Let it cool down in room temperature then flip it over to remove from the pan.
- Cut into small square pieces to serve. Serves 8-10.