Yaksik is a kind of Korean rice cake made with glutinous rice, honey, nuts, and dried fruits. It’s a sweet, delicious treat that’s packed full of flavor and healthy ingredients. Even the name is healthy – in Korean, yak means “medicine,” and sik means “food.” Koreans have long believed that honey is a medicine that’s beneficial to your health, so anything with honey is good for you. We feel the same way about jujubes and pine nuts, too, so yaksik is good for you. It’s also delicious!
Like many Korean housewives, I used to make yaksik in my pressure cooker. It’s very easy to do: just mix in all the ingredients, turn the pressure cooker on, and let it get to work. How to make yaksik with a pressure cooker is below.
But yaksik made in a pressure cooker can’t be compared with the taste and texture of yaksik made the traditional way. Each grain of rice becomes firm and chewy rice cake, and the flavors of all the ingredients are more distinct and alive.
Whichever way you decide to make it, I guarantee you’ll love this delectable, delightful snack. I make a lot of them and then save them for my breakfast or snack, but they are delicious any time of day.
Enjoy my recipe! Let me know how your yaksik turns out.
Ingredients (9 servings)
2 cups glutinous rice, rinsed and soaked in cold water for 5 hours
for caramel sauce:
- ¼ cup white sugar
- ¼ cup water
for seasoning sauce:
- ¼ cup dark brown sugar
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce
- 2 tablespoons grapeseed oil (or vegetable oil)
- 1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
- ½ teaspoon cinnamon powder
Fruits, nuts, honey:
- 14-16 large dried jujubes, rinsed, deseeded, cut into halves (or replace them with 1 cup dried cranberries)
- ¼ cup raisins
- 2 tablespoons dried cranberries (optional)
- ¼ cup honey
- 2 tablespoons pine nuts, tips removed
- 1 can of chestnuts, strained
Make caramel sauce:
- Add the sugar and 2 tablespoons water to a small saucepan on high heat. Don’t stir, or the sugar might crystallize.
- When it starts to boil, move the pan around to mix it up.
- 6 minutes later it will start to bubble. Turn the heat down low and swirl the sauce around in the saucepan to mix it up.
- 2 minutes later, when it gets a little smoky and turns dark brown, remove from the heat. Add 2 tablespoons of water and tilt and move the pan so it all mixes well. Let it cool.
Make seasoning sauce:
- Combine the brown sugar, oil, soy sauce, toasted sesame oil, and cinnamon powder in a small bowl, stirring with a wooden spoon until all the sugar is dissolved.
Mix fruits and nuts:
- Combine jujubes, raisins, pine nuts, chestnuts, and the dried cranberries (if used) in a large bowl.
- Strain the rice. Put into a steamer basket lined with a cotton cloth. Cover the rice with the edges of the cotton cloth. Add 5 cups of water to the steamer, cover and cook for 40 minutes over medium high heat.
- Open and turn the rice over a few times with a wooden spoon so it cooks evenly. Lower the heat to medium and cook another 20 minutes.
- Remove from the heat.
Put it all together:
- Transfer the cooked rice to the large bowl with the fruits and nuts. Add the seasoning sauce, caramel sauce, and honey.
- Mix well with a wooden spoon until all the liquid is absorbed by the rice.
- Put everything back into the steamer basket lined with the cotton cloth. Cover with the edges of the cotton cloth, add 1 cup of water to the steamer, and cook for 30 minutes over medium heat.
- Remove from the heat.
You can serve right away, scooping out pieces or even rolling handfuls of yaksik into balls. Or separate into squares for later use:
- Put the hot steamed yaksik into a 8 x 8 inch baking pan lined with plastic wrap. Mix well with a wooden spoon so the fruits and nuts get evenly distributed through the rice. Pack it down slightly so it all sticks together.
- Let it cool for about 20 minutes and flip the pan upside down over a cutting board so the rice cake comes out. Cut into 9 even size pieces. Wrap each one in tightly plastic wrap, into squares.
Freeze for later use:
- Put the wrapped yaksik into a plastic bag and freeze up to 1 month.
- When you want to eat one, take it out of the freezer and microwave for 2 minutes, or thaw it out at room temperature for about 30 minutes until it’s soft and chewy again.
How to make yaksik in a pressure cooker
- Put 2 cups of washed and drained rice in a pressure cooker. No need to soak it.
- Add the caramel sauce, seasoning sauce, honey, jujubes, raisins, pine nuts, chestnuts, and the dried cranberries (if used).
- Add 1 cup of water and set the pressure cooker to make rice.