As the winter season approaches, especially in December, many Koreans look for red bean porridge, or patjuk. That is because red bean porridge is associated with Dongji (winter solstice), a seasonal holiday which falls on December 21 or 22 in the solar calendar and the middle of the eleventh month in the lunar calendar. Marking the longest night of the year, Dongji was as big a holiday in the past as Seol (Lunar New Year’s Day) or Chuseok (Korean Thanksgiving Day). Koreans nicknamed Dongji “the Little New Year” and had festivities and special food to mark the occasion. That special food is patjuk.
The dish was considered helpful to ward off bad spirits and, subsequently, bad health because its main ingredient is red beans. Red was believed to be the color evil creatures were scared of, so on Dongji, a bowl would be placed in each room of the house to keep the family safe. Koreans also believed that if the weather on Dongji was unusually warm, it was a harbinger of plague and death.
Let’s make patjuk to commemorate the end of 2016.
Unlike wheat flour, rice powder does not contain gluten. This makes it difficult to make a sticky dough. To resolve this problem, knead the rice powder with hot water. Pour the hot water in little by little.
How to Make Patjuk (Two Servings)
Ingredients: Non-glutinous rice, red beans, glutinous rice flour, salt
1. Soak non-glutinous rice in cold water for 30 minutes. Strain through a sieve and wash with cold water.
2. Put the rice powder and salt into a bowl. Mix them while adding hot water little by little to make dough. Form the dough into balls.
3. Put red beans in a pot. Add water until the red beans are barely covered. Put on medium heat. When the water starts boiling, remove it, put in new water, and boil again until the red beans become soft.
4. Mash the cooked beans with a wooden paddle.
5. Put the mashed beans on a sieve and press them with a paddle while pouring water (8 cups) little by little. This will help to remove lumps.
6. Put part of the water from step 5 into a pot and add non-glutinous rice. Boil on medium heat gently stirring with a spatula.
7. When the grains of non-glutinous rice starts swelling, add the rice balls from step 2 and reduce to low heat.
8. Once the rice balls start floating on the surface, turn off the heat and season the porridge with salt.
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