I was first introduced to injeolmi toast by my oldest cousin during a summer spent abroad in Seoul. We were strolling outside on one of the city’s notoriously hot days when she led us to a popular dessert-café chain called Sulbing. My cousin ordered us a large bowl of milky bingsu, or Korean shaved ice, and a plate of a rather intriguing grilled sandwich I’d never had before. I helped her devour the bingsu—pure necessity to cool off from the heat—yet I found myself going back to take big forkfuls of the injeolmi toast, though it was slightly warm, out of pure joy.
What I love so much about injeolmi toast is how it walks the balance beam between traditional Eastern cooking and Western fusion creativity. The union of injeolmi—Korean rice cakes coated in roasted soybean powder, nestled between slices of plush, toasted milk bread—is one of unlikely perfection. The gentle brushing of honey inside, and both dry and wet toppings provide layers of unexpected complexity to a seemingly simple sandwich. This dessert is the crispy, sweet, nutty, ever-so-squishy treat I love making on days when I seek comfort and want to get lost in taste memory.
The recipe calls for making your own injeolmi rice cakes instead of depending on premade, which can be purchased at a Korean grocery store, such as HMart. (If you did want to use premade, follow the recipe exactly as written starting from Step 3.) While the traditional Korean process of making tteok is a bit labor-intensive (it calls for short-grain glutinous rice to be steamed, pounded with a mortar and pestle, then elongated and portioned out), using glutinous sweet rice flour, which is already ground and processed, cuts prep time without compromising the delightful flavor and chewiness.
The classic slab of injeolmi toast served in cafés and dessert shops is topped with more soybean powder, slivered almonds, and honey before serving, but I’ve seen and tried many fun spin-offs (cinnamon! chocolate! matcha with red bean!). Feel free to garnish yours in whatever way best serves your tastes and pantry inventory: If you can’t access roasted soybean powder, a dusting of powdered peanut butter or confectioners’ sugar works just as well. A drizzle of maple syrup, sweetened condensed milk, or even dulce de leche can surely take the place of honey as a liquid sweetener on top of your toast. Enjoy it warm, as you would a grilled cheese or French toast, with a tall glass of milk or refreshing iced latte. —Justine Lee
- Prep time 10 minutes
- Cook time 5 minutes
- makes 1 sandwich
glutinous sweet rice flour, preferably Koda Farms Blue Star Mochiko brand
plus 1 teaspoon roasted soybean powder, divided
unsalted butter, divided
slices milk bread or white sandwich bread
(heaped) honey, divided, plus more for serving
sliced raw almonds
- In a medium microwave-safe bowl, add the rice flour, salt, and sugar. Whisk to combine. Add the water and mix with a rubber spatula to form a shaggy dough. Place in the microwave and heat on high for 1 minute. Remove the bowl and fold over the mixture with the spatula, scraping down the sides. Place the bowl back in the microwave and again heat on high for 1 minute. Gently fold the dough once more. It should be a smooth, elastic ball. Allow the dough to cool for 1 to 2 minutes, or until still slightly warm but cool enough to touch.
- Dust a clean work surface with 1/4 cup of the soybean powder. Place the rice cake dough on top and flip over to coat in powder. Using your hands, pat the dough to form it into a flat, 4x4-inch square. Cut the dough into four 1-inch squares. Pick up one square and coat it completely with excess soybean powder. Repeat with the remaining pieces. Set aside.
- In a large frying pan, heat 1 tablespoon of the butter on medium heat. Place both slices of the bread in the pan and toast until lightly golden brown, about 1 minute. Flip the bread slices and repeat on the other side. Transfer the bread to a plate and evenly coat the top of each slice with a heaping teaspoon of honey.
- Place all four injeolmi squares on top of one of the honey-coated bread slices in an even layer. Close the sandwich with the remaining slice of bread, honey-coated side facing inward.
- In the same pan, heat the remaining tablespoon of butter over medium-low heat. Transfer the sandwich into the pan, pressing down on the top lightly with a spatula. Cover the pan and allow the sandwich to cook over low heat, about 1 minute. This will allow the injeolmi to melt and slightly soften the sandwich.
- Open the lid and flip the sandwich, pressing the top lightly once more. Cover the pan again and cook for 2 minutes more.
- Transfer the sandwich onto a cutting board and let it cool slightly. Quarter it on the diagonal into triangular wedges.
- Transfer the sandwich to a serving plate and dust evenly with the remaining teaspoon of soybean powder. Top with almonds and a generous drizzle of honey. Feel free to add more toppings or interchange with other types of nuts, fruit, and sweetener (see headnote for examples). Serve immediately.