Flower Rice Cakes (Hwa-Jon)
Recipe type: Rice Dishes
Serves: 20 to 25
  • 10 dried red dates (to 15) (available at Chinese and Korean markets)
  • 2 Cups sweet rice flour (available at Asian markets)
  • water; as needed
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • chrysanthemum petals and leaves
  • 20 pine nuts (to 30)
  • oil; for cooking
  1. Slice each date into about 16 thin strips, then cut each piece in half crosswise. Set aside.
  2. Combine the flour, 1 Cup of water and salt to form a dough. The dough should be slightly resilient and not stick to your hands. Add more water, a tablespoon at a time, if the dough is too dry. It will feel sticky. Make a dough ball about 1 1/2 inches in diameter and flatten it in a 3-inch circle about 1/4-inch thick. The dough will become more pliable if you work it in your hands a bit before flattening it. Repeat until the dough is used up.
  3. Press about 8 date strips (skin-side up) or chrysanthemum petals into the top of each rice cake to make a flower pattern. Press a pine nut in the center of the flower and a couple of thinly sliced chrysanthemum leaves on the outside of the flower.
  4. Heat a little oil in a skillet over low heat and place several dough circles to cover the surface, but not so crowded that they touch each other and stick. Cook them until they're very pale golden, about 3 to 4 minutes. Turn the cakes over and cook on the other side for about another 3 minutes, making sure not to burn the petals or dates.
This recipe yields 20 to 25 rice cakes.

Each of 25 cakes: 87 calories; 15 mg sodium; 0 cholesterol; 6 grams fat; 1 gram saturated fat; 14 grams carbohydrates; 2 grams protein; 0.97 gram fiber.

Comments: Koreans say that chrysanthemums have the scent of autumn. The petals and the leaves are used in this dish for garnish and to add the smell and taste of autumn. Some people make hwa-jon with red bean folded inside, but I prefer the simpler, more subtle flavor without the filling. If you're fortunate enough, you may be able to find a bottle of chrysanthemum wine to drink with the rice cakes to experience the full flavor of autumn. Dried jujubes, or red dates, can be found at Chinese and Korean markets.

NOTES: Cecilia Hae-Jin Lee is a freelance writer and artist based in the Los Angeles area
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