Move over Pepero, it's time to give spotlight to Garaetteok! November 11 is famous for Pepero Day, where you give chocolate sticks to family and friends. This same date is also Garaetteok Day, it's literal translation being "Korean Rice Cake Day." Instead of chocolate sticks, you pass out long cylindrical rice cakes. Keep in mind that Garaetteok Day is Farmer's Day in Korea.
1. MAKING GARAETTEOK
Garaetteok (가래떡) is made by pounding steamed rice flour, then dividing out the dough to create long flexible sticks. At festive events, you'll see people demonstrate the making of garaetteok in big vats and oversized wooden hammers.
When you make garaetteok at home, it is a more quiet spectacle. You'd typically use a smaller "sledgehammer" and pound the rice flour on a wooden cutting board.
2. USES OF GARAETTEOK
Fresh garaetteok can be enjoyed plain as is: uncooked without any sauces. If the garaetteok has hardened, you can heat it back up by pan-frying or grilling.
Feel free to spice these carbs up by sticking them on skewers and brushing on spicy sauce made of gochujang! Also known as Tteok Kkochi (떡꼬치).
Garaetteok is also thinly sliced into bite-sized pieces and popularly used to make Tteokguk (Rice Cake Soup). Tteokguk is eaten on Seollal, the Lunar New Year's Day. Traditionally, eating a bowl of Tteokguk on Seollal meant aging one year. If not, you'd stay the same age. I'd take the latter any day, please!
Garaetteok also come in thinner cylinders and are used to balance flavorful dishes. They can be added into Budae Jjigae (Army Base Stew), Jjajangmyun (black bean noodles), and Dalkgalbi (Spicy Grilled Chicken).
The thin versions of garaetteok are commonly used for Tteokbokki (떡볶이), spicy Korean rice cakes. Tteokbokki is hard to miss when you visit Korea. It's a signature Korean street food!
3. GARAETTEOK CELEBRATION
Whether you're into chocolate sticks or long rice cakes, Happy Garaetteok and Pepero Day! :)