Yaksik, Sweet Rice Bar with Nuts and Korean Dates
Yaksik (also called Yakbap) is a traditional Korean snack or dessert, made with sweet rice, nuts and jujubes (Korean dates). Many Koreans eat Yaksik as a healthy alternative to cookies and chips. It's often served at weddings and parties. And it also can be an excellent alternative to granola bars.
The name Yaksik ("Yak" meaning medicine, "Sik" meaning food) is derived from one of the ingredients, honey, which was considered a medicine back in the day. The origin of Yaksik traces back to the Samguk Era of Korea (488). On January 15, 488, Silla's King Soji was warned about the scheme of the queen trying to murder him through a letter delivered by a crow. Since then, Yaksik was offered to crows every Jan 15 as a thanks-giving offering. The king also ordered the nation to observe the same ritual, which became the tradition of eating Yaksik on Jeongwal Daeboreum ("Full Moon in January"). This is on January 15 of the lunar calendar, and is one of the 4 main traditional Korean holidays.
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|2¼ cups||Sweet Rice (Glutinous Rice) 찹쌀|
|2 cups||Water 물 (for the sauce)|
|⅔ cup||Brown Sugar 흑설탕 (can use a mix of brown sugar & honey)|
|2 tbs||Soy Sauce (regular) 왜간장|
|3 tbs||Sesame Oil 참기름|
|1 tsp||Salt 소금|
|1 tsp||Cinnamon Powder 계피가루|
|15||Peeled Chestnut 깐밤 (or nuts or dried fruit of your choice)|
|17 head(s)||Jujube or Red Date (Dried) 대추|
|1 oz||Pine nut 잣 (or nuts & dried fruit of your choice)|
|2 tbs||Walnut 호두 (or nuts & dried fruit of your choice)|
|2 tbs||Raisin 건포도 (or nuts & dried fruit of your choice)|
Optional Ingredients and Substitutions
You can add nuts, seeds or dried fruit of your choice (sunflower seeds, cranberries, etc.) but you must use jujubes (red dates).
Peanuts and almonds do NOT really go well with this recipe.
Making yaksik without a rice cooker
It is much easier to make yaksik with a rice cooker. If you don’t have a rice cooker:
-Boil water in a steamer, layer the steamer with cheese cloth or other clean lint-free cloth.
-Steam pre-soaked sweet rice for an hour. Mix it up in the middle so the sweet rice is cooked evenly.
-Mix the steamed sweet rice with sauce and nuts.
-Steam again for an hour.
-Place in a glass container.
-Cool down and cut. Decorate.
Ingredient amounts in the recipe instructions are for the default serving size.
Click to enlarge photos.
Ingredient amounts in the recipe summary are for the default serving size.
1. Wash & soak glutinous rice
Wash 2¼ cup of glutinous rice in cold water 2-3 times. Do not rub it too hard or too long. Soak glutinous rice in water overnight (at least 6 hours). Drain water in a strainer.
Soak at least 6 hours
2. Prepare jujube
Wash 15 jujubes thoroughly and remove water with paper towel. Remove the seeds from jujubes by peeling the flesh while turning Keep the seeds.
Wash & Remove water
Peel flesh while turning
3. Roll jujubes
Roll the flesh of jujubes.
4. Cut jujubes & nuts
Thinly slice the rolled jujube flesh across so that the swirl is shown. Cut peeled chestnuts into quarters. Crush walnuts into small pieces.
Slice jujube thinly
5. Keep some for decoration
Keep a few of the best ones on the side to use as a decoration at the end.
6. Jujube water
Pour 2 cups of water in a pot. Add the jujube seeds and boil for on medium heat 10 minutes. Then, cool it down. You will need 1½ cups of jujube water for the sauce.
Mix 1½ cups of jujube water, ⅔ cup of brown sugar (add more if you like sweets), 2 tablespoons of soy sauce, 3 tablespoons of sesame oil, 1 teaspoon of cinnamon powder and 1 teaspoon of salt. Make sure all the ingredients are well dissolved in the jujube water (You could boil it for 2-3 minutes).
Put soaked glutinous rice in a rice cooker and place chestnuts, jujubes, pine nuts, walnuts and raisins on top. See tips above for cooking without a rice cooker.
Add to the rice cooker
9. Pour sauce & cook
Pour the sauce over the rice and cook on the white rice mode (if there is an option). Don’t open the rice cooker for at least 5 min even after the cooking completion light has come on.
10. Flip through rice
With a rice spatula, flip through the rice gently.
Flip through rice
11. Place in container
Coat a glass container with sesame oil or layer it with cling wrap. Place the cooked rice in the glass container or a baking pan and press it down with a spatula to make it compact. Cool it down completely and place the container upside down on a cutting board. Cut it into small pieces.
Place in container
Flip upside down
Decorate each piece with the pine nuts and jujubes that were saved from the earlier step. Serve and enjoy. (Tip: you can make a cake by using a baking pan and skipping the cutting part.)
Serve & Enjoy