For centuries, boiled cereals have been a staple in the Korean diet, while cereal cakes have been reserved for special occasions such as holidays, birthdays, and weddings. The practice dates back to the Bronze Age in Korea, as evidenced by the earthenware steamers of various shapes found in ancient remains, showcasing the enduring tradition of making cereal cakes in Korea.
Cereal cakes come in many varieties and are made by pounding boiled cereals or steaming powdered cereals. One of the most popular types of cereal cake in Korea is the glutinous rice cake, which is made by pounding steamed glutinous rice or its flour. While traditionally a moderate amount of steamed material was pounded in a mortar, larger quantities required men to pound the materials on a flat board or stone with mallets. Glutinous rice cake is often dressed with powders of roasted soybean, adzuki bean, sesame, jujube, chestnut, pine nut, or other similar ingredients. This cake has become an essential element of Korean wedding ceremonies, symbolizing the hope for the newlyweds to enjoy a harmonious and happy life.
Apart from glutinous rice cakes, other types of cereal cakes made of powdered cereals are also popular in Korea, each with its own unique preparation method, taste, and ingredients. Examples include songphyon, a cereal cake steamed on a layer of pine needles, swiumttok, a fermented cereal cake, and solgittok, a steamed cereal cake.
The tradition of serving cereal cakes to guests and sharing them with neighbours dates back to ancient times in Korea, and the custom of making cereal cakes at home is still prevalent among the Korean people. While various types of cereal cakes are now produced in factories, the practice of making them by hand continues to be an essential part of Korean culture and culinary heritage.