What do you think of when you hear the term “rice cake”? For many Americans, the term probably evokes a dry disk of joyless diet food that you eat only in a vain attempt to tell your body that it counts as a snack. At our Seattle Korean restaurant, however, it is something much more appetizing. Here, a rice cake is what the Koreans call “ddeok” (alternatively “tteok”, or even “ddeog”).
In general, a ddeog is a soft, spongy cake made out of sweet rice flour. They come in many forms in Korea, fitting in as easily among the dessert table as they do in a hearty dinner stew. Some of the sweeter ddeok will be baked with bits of fruits, nuts, or beans, or prepared in festive colors or shapes. Koreans will traditionally enjoy ddeok at times of celebration, serving sweet ddeok during birthdays or weddings or dining on ddeok soup during the New Year meal.