Food & Drinks

How Korea’s Most Celebrated Rice Cake Master Makes Tteok

Chef Park Kyeong-Mi holds the honorable title of South Korea’s “Royal Cuisine Intangible Cultural Heritage Transferee,” which is another way of saying: she’s really really good at making tteok.

Kyeong-Mi been making varieties of the traditional Korean rice cake in her shop Dong Byung Sang Ryoun for over 20 years. “What’s funny is, when I first started to make tteok, people were unaware of this nice food culture,” she says. “They didn’t eat it because they didn’t know about it.” Now, she makes everything from royal stir-fried tteok to bouncy jeungpyeon to tteok sandwiches filled with sliced meat.

First, we see her make garaetteok for tteokbokki. She grinds her rice down to a powder and adds water, paying great attention to detail because this will determine the correct balance of sticky and smooth texture. Once she has her dough, she runs it through a machine to make the thick noodle shape that will be cut, boiled, and stir fried.

Next, she makes jeungpyeon, beginning with a similar process of running it through the mill; to get the desired bouncy and chewy texture, she runs it through three times to create a fine powder. She adds saeng makgeolli and sugar to the mix and lets it ferment for 6 hours. Once the dough is fermented and risen, it’s steamed, and used as semi-sweet cakes, and sliced like bread for sandwiches, too.

“There were so many varieties in the past, so taking that and shaping it to fit current trends, or refining the taste, I thought this was something I could do,” she explains. “I wanted to do that very well.”

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