Ring in the Korean New Year with delicious Injeolmi.

Charlie Heller
February 16, 2018

Today is the first day of the Lunar New Year for many East Asian countries, which means, among other things, that many people in Korea are celebrating more than just the Olympics. One tradition we've got our eye on? Injeolmi, a traditional Korean rice cake made to celebrate special occasions. Whether you want to buy some at your local Korean Market or make them yourselves is up to you, but the process of making the dish is worth watching regardless.

First, steamed sweet sticky rice is soaked overnight. Then, chefs prepare a large wooden surface with sesame oil, which they spread around with gloved hands. They lay out a slab of the rice, which looks not unlike a huge rice pancake already, then pound it with wooden mallets, ball it back up with rice paddles, and then pound it some more, until it reaches the proper consistency.

Next, the chefs coat the rice in soybean powder, which is laid out on a tray and cut into bite-size pieces that they roll into balls. They plate them, sprinkle on a bit more soybean powder, and that's it! You can either enjoy them at this stage, or fry them up for a crispier version.

Injeolmi are just one of the many varieties of Korean pancakes out there, and with the combination of Lunar New year and the PyeongChang Olympics, it's a great time to learn more about the country's take on the beloved food. Earlier this week, NBC's official Olympics Food Correspondent David Chang showed the Today Show crew around PyeongChang's Gangneung Central Market, where they sampled Hotteok, a hot pancake made with its own specialized tool. And if you want to replicate it at home, Sunday Bird chef Deuki Hong showed Food & Wine exactly how to navigate Asian grocery chain H Mart, with guidelines you can follow yourself.