Beet Songpyeon

Songpyeon, half-moon shaped rice cake, is a must-have Chuseok delicacy. The sweet, earthy flavor of beets, and their vibrant red color works beautifully with the songpyeon dough.

DSC4089 2 - Beet Songpyeon

The weather has cooled down, the trees are changing colors, and the persimmons in my backyard are ripening. I absolutely love this time of year! Over the last couple of days, Koreans have been celebrating Chuseok (추석). Also referred to as Hangawi (한가위), it’s a mid-autumn/harvest festival, which takes place on the 15th day of the 8th lunar month. 

Families gather, give thanks to their ancestors, and enjoy a great time together sharing abundant foods. As the old Korean saying goes, “No more, no less, just be like Hangawi”! Enjoy this beautiful, bountiful season!

DSC4015 - Beet Songpyeon

Songpyeon (송편), aka half-moon shaped rice cake, is a must-have Chuseok delicacy. I previously posted my songpyeon recipe with several natural food coloring options. Here’s another option for you!

I love the sweet, earthy flavor of beets, and their vibrant red color works beautifully with the songpyeon dough. The first photo above also has plain white songpyeon without any food coloring.

The decorations are optional with different color doughs in my other songpyeon recipe. Simply make tiny small balls by rolling the dough between your fingers and press gently to shape them. 

In this updated recipe, I used beet boiled water to create natural red color. You can easily adjust the color by reducing the water more or less. If you like strong red color, you can use the beet puree by roasting it first in the oven and puree in a blender.

Songpyeon is stuffed with a sweet filling and traditionally steamed on a bed of pine needles, hence the name songpyeon (“song” in “songpyeon” means pine tree). I’m lucky to have quite a few pine trees in my backyard.

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Which rice flour to use for songpyeon

Songpyeon dough is made with short grain rice powder (쌀가루), NOT glutenous (sweet rice) powder (찹쌀가루). Traditionally, Korean home cooks soak short grain rice overnight, drain, and then take to a gristmill to get it ground into fine powder. 

Here in the States, we can find bags of frozen wet rice powder for making rice cake (tteok) sold in the freezer section of Korean grocery stores. Processed dry rice flour will not work for songpyeon. 

You can try making rice flour at home by soaking short grain rice over night, drain for hours, and then use a powerful blender, coffee grinder, or food processor to finely ground. The rice flour/batter may still come out a bit grainy, not as soft.

More Chuseok holiday recipes:

Songpyeon
Modeumjeon (Fish, Shrimp and Zucchini Pan-fried in Egg Batter)
Galbijjim (Braised Short Ribs)
Japchae (Stir-Fried Starch Noodles with Vegetables)
Nokdujeon (Savory Mung Bean Pancakes)
Sanjeok (Skewered Rice Cake with Beef and Vegetables)
Radish Soup (Mu Guk/Moo Guk)
15 Chuseok Recipes for more

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Have you tried this beet songpyeon recipe? Please rate the recipe below and leave a comment! Stay in touch by following me on YouTubePinterestTwitterFacebook, and Instagram.

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Beet Songpyeon

5 from 3 votes
Print Recipe

Ingredients

Dough

  • 2 to 3 slices red beet (about 1/4-inch thick)
  • 2 cups frozen rice powder labeled 쌀가루 or 쌀떡가루, thawed to room temperature - see note
  • about 2 ounces pine needles rinsed 2 - 3 times (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil

Filling

  • 1/3 cup roasted sesame seeds
  • 1 tablespoon sugar adjust to your taste
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • pinch salt

Instructions

  • In a small sauce pan, boil 2 to 3 slices (about 1/4-inch thick) in 1 cup of water until the water is reduced to about a half.
    DSC3912 640x427 - Beet Songpyeon
  • Sift the rice powder into a bowl. Add 4 tablespoons of hot beet water, quickly stirring it in with a spoon. Add more beet water if the dough is too dry, 1 teaspoon at a time.
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  • Knead, pressing and stretching with the heel of the hand. Fold and rotate the dough. Repeat the kneading process for 2 to 3 minutes. (If the dough sticks to your hands or the bowl after some kneading, it's too wet. Add a little more rice powder. If the dough breaks easily or is too stiff, it's too dry. Add more beet water, 1 teaspoon at a time.)
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  • Cover the dough with plastic wrap or a damp towel. Let it rest for 20 to 30 minutes.
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  • Roughly grind the sesame seeds in a grinder or blender. Add the sugar, honey, and pinch of salt. Mix well until the honey is evenly distributed.
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  • To assemble, tear off a small piece of the dough enough to make a roughly 1-inch ball. Roll tightly between your palms to shape a ball.
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  • Make a well in the ball by pressing into it with your thumb, and press outwards, with both of your thumbs, on the inside walls of the well to slightly expand the opening. Place 1/2 teaspoon of the filling in the well and press it down. Seal tightly by squeezing the edges together.
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  • Squeeze the whole rice cake lightly in your palm to firm it up and roll gently between your palms to smooth it out.
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  • Shape it to resemble a half moon. Repeat until all the dough/filling is used.
    DSC3955 640x427 - Beet Songpyeon
  • Boil water in a steamer. Place a thin layer of pine needles or a damp kitchen cloth on the steamer insert. Boil the water over high heat. When it starts to steam, place the rice cakes on the steamer insert without the pieces touching one another. Cover with a thin layer of pine needles, if available. Cover and steam for 20 minutes.
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  • Prepare a big bowl of cold water. Remove the rice cakes from the steamer, and drop them in the cold water for a quick rinse. Transfer the rice cakes to a colander to drain. Lightly coat your hands with the sesame oil and rub the oil on the rice cakes in batches.
    DSC4028 640x427 - Beet Songpyeon

Notes

A 2-pound bag yields a little more than 6 cups, which is sufficient for 3 batches. The frozen rice powder for rice cakes is usually pre-salted. Be aware that the moisture content of the powder varies depending on the brand.
For more vibrant red color, you can roast a small beet in the oven (about 45 minutes at 400 °F), and purée in a blender as fine as possible. You'll need about 1/3 cup. Heat the beet purée until hot in the microwave and add to the rice powder, quickly stirring it in with a spoon. Add a little hot water as necessary, 1 teaspoon at a time. 
DSC 0947 e1601784767370 - Beet Songpyeon
 
Tried this recipe?Mention @koreanbapsang or tag #koreanbapsang!

This recipe was originally posted in September 2015. I’ve updated it here with new photos and improvements to the recipe. 

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Comments

  1. Chelle Thompson says

    5 stars
    Healthy and delicious. I like this dish. So great.I did it yesterday for my son. My son loves this dish. He ate it all. Your recipe works. I want to add more sugars to the recipe, is that good? How do you think?

  2. mon ngon moi ngay says

    Perfect Songpyeon! The recipe is so easy to take, thanks for sharing.

  3. Hi Hyosun! I’m from Singapore and I chanced upon your website while reading up on Korea, and love what you are doing here! 🙂 I’ll be visiting Korea in a week or so, and would be bringing along my 18 month old baby. Was just wondering, if you recommend Samgyetang to toddlers of this age? Do Korean mummies feed ginseng chicken soup to their babies? 🙂 And do you have recommendations for what toddlers can eat in Korea? 🙂 Thanks so much in advance!

    • Thank you, Zhen! That’s nice you get to go to Korea. I know Korean moms do. There should be all kinds of mild soup or porridge at Korean restaurants little kids can eat. Korean kids enjoy gimbap. Toddlers generally like some rice wrapped in gim (dried seaweed). Also, most restaurants serve many complimentary side dishes along with your meal. Some of those side dishes will be child-friendly as well, such as egg dishes, jeon (pan-fried egg battered dishes). Korea also has a lot of chicken dishes kids love. Enjoy your trip!

  4. Sue | My Korean Kitchen says

    Happy Chuseok! Your songpyeon looks beautiful, Hyosun! I love it! I didn’t make any Chuseok food this year (which I’m not proud of as a Korean food blogger, lol). I wish I could visit you house instead. 🙂
    The video was pretty funny. You looked a bit nervous watching The Try Guys making ddeokbokki. But I can see that you enjoyed filming. You’re so natural at this!