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Sweet Rice Cake Balls Recipe

Cristian Broglia says: “These traditional Korean treats, called gyeongdan, have sweetened red bean paste inside. Korean tradition has it that red beans in food can drive out evil spirits, so these bean-stuffed rice cakes were often served on a baby’s first birthday, to ensure a long and healthy life. The balls can be rolled in all sorts of ingredients; in addition to the three suggestions listed here, they can also be coated with toasted soy powder or powdered yellow or green beans.”

Preparation time:

1 hour, plus overnight soaking time

Cooking time:

1 hour





1. In a medium pot, combine the soaked beans with water to cover. Bring to a boil over high heat and cook for 10 minutes. Reduce the heat and simmer until soft, about 30 minutes.

2. Drain the beans. Mash them in a bowl with a spoon (or mash in a blender) to get a paste. Return the paste to the pot and add the sugar, cinnamon, vanilla, and salt to taste. Mix over low heat for 1 minute to thoroughly combine.

3. In a medium bowl, combine the rice flour, 1 teaspoon salt, and 125 g brown sugar. Add the boiling water and mix with your hands until you obtain a dough. Set the rice cake dough aside in a plastic bag.

4. In a small dry frying pan, toast the black sesame seeds until they pop. Set aside. In a separate bowl, stir together the matcha green tea powder with the remaining 2 tablespoons brown sugar.

5. Put the rice cake dough on a cutting board and roll into a rope 1½ inches (4cm) thick. Cut the rope into 1½-inch (4cm) chunks. Roll each chunk into a little ball. Press your thumb in the middle of the ball and put ½ teaspoon bean paste in the middle. Fold the dough around the filling and roll back into a smooth ball. Make sure to seal the dough. Repeat the process until all the dough and bean paste are finished.

6. Set up a bowl of ice and water. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Working in batches, cook the rice balls until they rise to the surface, about 5 minutes. Scoop them into the ice bath to cool down. Drain well.

7. Roll the cooked rice balls in either the toasted sesame seeds, the matcha/sugar mixture, or the shredded coconut. Roll until they are completely covered. Serve each person 3 balls, each with a different coating.

Recipe extracted from The Gluten-Free Cookbook by Cristian Broglia, which is published by Phaidon.

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