Gyeongdan: What Is It, Where To Buy and How To Eat?

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One unique type of food you should try are rice cakes. Rice cakes are particularly popular in Asian countries like Korea, where they take rice and make a single food object out of it, which becomes the rice cakes. One of these types of rice cakes is gyeongdan.

Gyeongdan is a type of Korean rice ball cake and a variant of tteok, which is an umbrella term for rice cakes using steamed flour made of different grains. 

Gyeongdan is a popular choice in South Korea, and it uses gomul, powdered sesame or beans, to improve its appearance and taste.

The rest of this article will cover what gyeongdan is, how to eat it, and a brief conclusion.

What Gyeongdan Is

Gyeongdan (경단) is a rice ball cake originating from South Korea. It’s made using glutinous rice. Glutinous rice is a special type of rice from Southeast and East Asia, and it’s known for being sticky after it’s cooked. 

That’s why glutinous rice is commonly used in rice cakes.

The size of gyeongdan varies, but the most common you’ll see is about the size of a chestnut. They’re rolled into little balls and eaten that way. 

There’s other names for gyeongdan as well depending on what ingredients are used.

Two of the most common names are susugyeongdan,or sorghum, ball cake (수수경단), and chapssalgyeongdan (찹쌀경단). 

Their names depend on the specific ingredients, but you can just call them gyeongdan. For example, chapssal is often omitted from chapssalgyeongdan.

Gomul (고물) are the powdered sesame or beans that go into the gyeongdan. They’re added mostly to improve appearance and taste, but they have a cultural history as well. 

For example, white bean paste is often added to celebrate a child’s birthday.

There’s also red bean paste. Red bean paste is symbolic for fighting evil spirits. Oftentimes you’ll see the white and red together. 

One last main ingredient you’ll see in gyeongdan is honey. After the rice cakes are done cooking, they’ll get coated in honey for a better taste.

Where To Buy Gyeongdan

In South Korea, it’s pretty easy to find gyeongdan. Not only are they very cheap, but they’re in a plentiful amount of restaurants and other stores. 

For starters, you can get them at restaurants. If you don’t want to go to a restaurant to get such a small meal, you have other options too.

Snack bars and cafes in Korea are likely to have them. Rice cakes are small balls that aren’t meant to be used as a main dish. 

Any convenience store, snack bar, and or cafe is likely to have gyeongdan since it’s such a tiny and affordable portion.

If you don’t want to go out to get them, that’s fine. You can order it online, or get take-out or delivery from a restaurant that offers the treat. 

If you’re not in Korea, you can still order it online or from a local Korean restaurant.

There’s still a few more options if you don’t want to do any of those. Although it may be unlikely you’ll find the exact type you’re looking for, it’s possible you can find gyeongdan at your local grocery store depending on what country you’re in. 

In the case that you can’t find gyeongdan at your local Korean store, then you can pick up the ingredients you’ll need to make it yourself. 

You’ll need rice flour, sugar, salt, a pot to boil water in, and other ingredients you may want to add like white or red bean paste.

How To Eat Gyeongdan

Gyeongdan is a good treat for those who like something small but filling. Regardless of what size the portion may be, there’s still many ways you can eat gyeongdan. You can experiment with the taste, or you can experiment with the time you eat it.

You can play around with the ingredients to get a better taste. There’s several variants of gyeongdan that you can try. 

There’s no shortage of types to choose from. They range from the basic rice cakes to s’mores.

Sometimes it’s not how you eat it, but when you eat it. When you’re eating gyeongdan, consider when you’re going to have it. 

In Korea, gyeongdan is often served on a special holiday such as a child’s birthday. The right occasion makes the treat even sweeter.

After you’re done with your festivities and experimenting, you’ll want to know how to store your leftovers. Or if you’re making them in advance for a party or other event, you should preserve them to keep their taste fresh. 

Eating Gyeongdan With Different Ingredients

Powders are your best bet for changing the taste of your rice cakes. As mentioned previously, gomul are the powdered sesame or beans that enhance the flavor of the cakes. 

You can take this into your own hands and choose which powder you’d like to use.

The powders have no limit. They range from coconut to coffee beans to toasted soybean, and you can get these powders at your grocery store or online. 

If you’re ordering from a restaurant, see what varieties they have.

If you’re looking for more flavor, you can change the pastes and coatings. You’ll get a sweeter rice cake meal if you go for a fruit paste, or you can stick with the traditional red and white beans. 

You can buy a coating like honey or a type of syrup to bring out the taste more.

Eating Gyeongdan On Holidays

When you’re celebrating an event, the food is a special part of that celebration. Incorporating gyeongdan into your list of meals is a great idea to give you a sweet, small treat. 

Making or ordering gyeongdan in large quantities is cheap and easy, and it makes a perfect party snack.

How To Store Gyeongdan

Storing gyeongdan takes two steps, but it’ll keep the rice cakes fresh for a while. First, you need to take the leftover rice cakes and put them on a plate. 

Keep them in the freezer for several hours until they’re firm. After they’re firm, put them in a plastic bag in the freezer.

Re-heating gyeongdan doesn’t take long. Remove them from the freezer and spread them out on a microwave-safe plate. 

From there, you can put them inside and heat them up for 30 seconds. Be sure to cover them so if they spill or burst, you won’t damage your microwave.

Conclusion

In South Korea, there’s a treat known as gyeongdan. It’s a type of tteok rice cake, which means it’s made using steamed flour packed with different grains. 

Popular and cheap, gyeongdan uses various pastes, coatings, and core ingredients to bring out the taste.

Glutinous rice is the heart of gyeongdan, but there’s also gomul, which is the Korean word for powdered sesame or beans. 

Gyeongdan has unique names depending on the specific type of rice cake you’re having. As for buying gyeongdan, you can buy it from restaurants or online.

There are many ways you can try gyeongdan. To change up the taste, you should experiment with the ingredients inside the gyeongdan. 

If you’re looking for a change of scenery, try eating rice cakes on holidays. For storing, put it in a plastic bag in the freezer.

About The Author

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Jason Park

Jason has been living in Seoul over 4 years and during that time, he has experienced a lot of the city's quirks and charms. He loves to write about his experiences and share them with others who are interested in learning more about South Korea.

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