This Spring, Don't Just Smell the Flowers, Eat Them!

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This Spring, Don't Just Smell the Flowers, Eat Them!

The coming of spring in Korea is heralded by the little flowers that pop up everywhere. And what finer way to enjoy the season than by a bit of flower-watching in the streets. Gaenari (golden bells) and jindallae (azalea) blossoms of bright yellow and pink bring nature's colors back to life.

To celebrate spring every year, Koreans also enjoy the beautiful color and sweet aroma of fresh azalea blossoms on the table. Hwajeon, rice cake patties topped with flowers, come in seasonal varieties and can be made with yellow roses in the summer and chrysanthemums in the fall. Chinese dates or jujube (daechu) and mugwort leaves (ssuk) are additional ingredients for hwajeon that can be added to the dish all year around.

Hwajeon is one of Korea's oldest traditional foods and is a delightful treat that can be served as a light breakfast or as an in-between meal snack.

The JoongAng Ilbo English Edition brings you an easy-to-follow recipe for making the jindallaejeon at home.

Ingredients for 4 servings: 3 cups of chapssal garu (sticky rice powder), 6-7 tablespoons of water, 10-15 azalea flowers, 2 teaspoons of fine salt, 1/3 cup of sugar or 6 tablespoons (or more if desired) of honey.

In order to make various rice cake designs, different colors of mugwort leaves, jat (pine nut) and/or Chinese dates are recommended, but optional.

1. Pick fresh flowers off the branch. Handling with care, wash the petals in a bowl of water. Put the clean petals on a paper towel to dry.

2. The optional mugwort leaves can be cut into small sizes and washed. If using Chinese dates, cut the fruit into thin strips and round shapes, as shown in the lower right picture.

4. In a bowl, add rice powder, salt and water and mix thoroughly. Knead the mixture.

5. Flatten small balls of the mixture into coin sizes. They should be about 4 centimeters in diameter.

6. Preheat the frying pan and lightly grease with oil.

7. Cook the patties on a medium to low fire using a spoon, until the bottom side becomes lightly fried or a golden yellow.

8. While the top side is still sticky, press pink petals into the patty, in the form of a flower, using a spoon.

9. Grease the serving plate with honey or sprinkle a little sugar so that the patties don't stick to the plate.

10. Glaze each hwajeon with honey or sprinkle on sugar.

11. Serve hwajeon while hot, with honey.

by Ines Cho

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