Tuesday, September 4, 2012

An interesting way to serve rice and beans

Today we had something very interesting... unusual even.  It was a sticky rice cake covered with sweetened crushed red beans.  No one had every heard of let alone imagined such a thing but it is apparently of Korean origin but also familiar in Japan and somewhat in China.  This should not be too surprising to our aficionados as we know full well that a lot of "sweets" from the Far East are made from or include some form of red beans.  This can take the form similar to gelatin or it can be as pasted used as the filling for a sweet roll or something similar.  It may seem strange given what western culture is used to but it is pretty routine for Asian culture.  Since a lot of these things are eaten while drinking it all seems to fit together somehow.
What's in the pans?
Why sticky rice cake with red bean crumble!
Nicely sliced and packaged!
Our chef remembering her Korean heritage~
Not unlike a slice of pizza!
Basically what we had to day was a sticky rice "cake" that was dusted on top with cooked and the pulverized red beans.  The bean "powder" - more like a brittle actually - was sweetened a little with sugar. The rice "cake" part was not.  This was clearly not going to whet anyone's appetite for a sickeningly sweet afternoon treat and American generic birthday cake manufacturers should take note.
The white part is the rice and the top is the crushed red beans
It does not look that bad at all!

We were told this was not easy to make and that it involved some very delicate mixing of rice flours  with water gradually added but not so that it gets too wet.  Somehow it is then placed into sieve from which the water drains and from there we don't know because we really did not understand how this would all come together. But that is irrelevant since our chef knew and wanted to expose us to this special concoction that she remembered having when she was younger.
When you microwave steam it the rice part expands!
This may look like crushed Heath Bar but it is crushed red bean!
The taste was not bad - a little bland was the rice part - but the crumbled red bean topping did sweeten it up a bit and I do mean a bit.  It was rather dry however.  We learned that is it supposed to be steamed prior to serving which we attempted to emulate by putting it in the microwave. That did not necessarily work and tended to make it a little hard to bite into.  Taking our cue from the steam part we put in covered in the microwave with a little water on the plate.  This did the trick - sort of.  What we did notice is that the steam caused the "rice cake" part to expand so it was more of a cake although to much steaming turned the bean crumble to mush.  We did decided that it was better served this way though not the exact serving technique.  It was well received, however, and the effort was certainly applauded.  We got a promise that next time it will be correctly steamed and served so that we enjoy the full effect. We can't wait!!

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