Yaksik 약식

Yaksik (약식) is a traditional glutinous Korean rice cake. The other name for it, Yakbap (약밥), translates to ‘medicinal rice’. This is because honey is historically considered to have health benefits in Korea. It is a Korean snack or dessert and it can be a great healthy option instead of chips or cake. It is filled with healthy ingredients such as honey, nuts and Korean dates. It is vegan and gluten free. It is often eaten at Korean celebrations, such as Seoullal or Chuseok, and at Korean weddings. Yaksik dates back to approximately 1500 years ago.

Yaksik (약식) has been made into modern variations, such as Yaksik cupcakes.


  • 2¼ cups glutinous rice
  • 5 cups water (or 1 cup if using a rice cooker)

Caramel sauce:

  • ¼ cup water
  • ¼ cup white sugar

Seasoning Sauce:

  • ⅔ cup brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 3 tbsp sesame oil
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 3 tbsp sesame oil
  • 1 tsp salt

Fruit, nuts and honey:

  • 15 peeled chestnuts
  • 17 red dates (dried)
  • 1 ounce pine nuts
  • 2 tbsp walnuts
  • 2 tbsp raisins
  • ¼ cup honey

The nuts in the recipe can be exchanged for other types of nuts or dried fruit if you prefer the taste or have allergies, but you should make sure to use the red dates. For example, you could exchange the pine nuts for walnuts. However, the different flavours might not mix well with the other ingredients.

This recipe can be made with or without a rice cooker, and the different options are shown below.


Caramel Sauce:

  • Heat a small saucepan to a high heat.
  • Add the sugar and 2 tbsp of the water but do not stir.
© 2019/08/28,
  • Bring the saucepan to the boil and turn the heat down to low.
  • After approximately two minutes, the mixture will change to a darker colour.
  • When it does, take the saucepan off the heat and add the remaining 2 tbsp of water.
  • Swirl the saucepan and cool the sauce.

Seasoning Sauce:

  • Mix all of the ingredients together in a medium sized bowl.
  • Stir until the granules of sugar have dissolved.

Preparing the nuts and dried fruit:

  1. Wash the red dates and remove the seeds. Peel and cut into quarters.
  • Peel the chestnuts and cut them into quarters.
  • Crush the walnuts.
  • Combine all of the nuts and dried fruit in a large mixing bowl.

Without a rice cooker:

  • Rinse the rice using a sieve 2 to 3 times. Soak the glutinous rice overnight (or for at least 6 hours), then strain out the water.
  • Add the rice over a cloth in a steamer and put over five cups of boiling water. Cook for 40 minutes on a high heat. Stir.
  • Then, cook for twenty minutes with the heat on medium.
  • If you do not have a steamer, you can use a colander and a saucepan.
© 2019/08/28,

Combine Ingredients:

  • Add the cooked rice, caramel sauce and seasoning sauce to the large bowl of nuts and dried fruit. Add the honey. Mix well.
  • Place the mixture on the cloth on the steamer.
  • Place the steamer on a medium heat.
  • Add one cup of water to the steamer.
  • Cook for a further thirty minutes.
  • Remove from the heat and allow to cool.

With a rice cooker:

  • Rinse the rice using a sieve 2 to 3 times.
  • Put the rice, nuts and dried fruit, caramel sauce, seasoning sauce, honey and 1 cup of water into the rice cooker.
  • Cook on the white rice setting.
  • When finished, let it sit for 5 minutes.
  • Stir with a spatula.
© 2019/08/28,


  • It can be rolled into balls and served immediately.
  • Alternatively, place it into a baking pan and, when cool, flip onto a board and cut into squares.
  • Add extra nuts of dried fruit on top as a decoration.


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Featured image source: © Yaksik (약식), Yun, S., 2019/08/18,

Jennifer Marlton

I lived in Korea for the past two years while working as an English teacher. I have always loved writing and I enjoy exploring new cities. In Korea, my hobbies included swing dancing, KPOP dancing and singing in a Korean choir.



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