I am a woman of mixed heritage (African-American and Mexican) married to a Korean-American. Together we have four children that are a blend of all of these cultures. We live an intentional life bringing in inspirations that reflect our multicultural reality. I love passing down my rich heritage to our children. I also love learning about their Korean heritage.
Part of living with intention means my littles go to a dual language immersion (Korean/English) public school where I take every opportunity I can to support them in their learning. I volunteered on their last field trip to the Korean Cultural Center and was happy I did as I learned a great deal about the beauty of their culture.
The last experience on this day was a hands-on cooking demo of Hwajeon (花煎) which means flower cake. I learned all about this little pan-fried rice cake treat like how it is made of glutinous rice flour, honey, and edible petals from seasonal flowers.
I loved hearing about how it is eaten during the festival of Samjinnal, the festive day that marks the arrival of spring which falls on every third day of the third lunar month in the Korean calendar. But you don’t have to wait until spring to make these. They make for a great day like during the upcoming winter break.
Start with edible petals from seasonal flowers. Talk with your local horticultural centre that can share flower ideas and take note of the season and availability. Some examples are rhododendron, cherry blossom, rose, and chrysanthemum.
Not every flower is meant to be consumed though as some are poisonous. Be careful and research and/or consult with experts.
Korean Flower Pancake (Hwajeon)
1 cup sweet rice flour (mochiko rice flour)
1/4 teaspoon fine salt
5~6 tablespoon hot water
2 tablespoon vegetable or sesame oil for frying
1 bunch of edible flowers
Honey or sugar syrup to drizzle
Begin preparing Hwajeon using glutinous rice that is seasoned with salt then pounded into fine flour (mix rice flour and salt). Boil water and add slowly and carefully to the flour mixture. If you see that there are still some dry, flaky areas, add a bit more hot water.
Once you have the dough, knead to make sure dough is evenly mixed. At the Korean Cultural Centre they called this dough-making process, Ickbanjook where ick means “cooked” and banjook means dough.
The kids enjoyed kneading and dividing the dough and forming the dough into 1-inch balls. Press each ball and shape into a flat round shape – the size of a silver dollar pancake. As the pan was readied to fry using heated up sesame oil, we flattened the balls shapes and placed the edible flower petals on top.
Lightly press the flowers on the dough while frying in the pan. BE CAREFUL not to burn your hands. Always supervise children. Fry each flower pancake on medium-high heat until the bottom side is lightly browned.
Do not turn over (to keep the colour of flowers). Instead, shower the flower side with the hot oil to cook thoroughly. Once complete, the fried flower cakes are soaked in honey or syrup to add sweetness.
Enjoy the sweetness of another culture!