Korean Desserts for the Holidays Posted by Ginny on Dec 19, 2008 in Cuisine
I should preface this blog post by mentioning that not all Koreans celebrate Christmas. Some Koreans happen to be Buddhists and so Christmas isn’t really a holiday that they can identify with. Some Koreans are Christians, but they tend to observe Christmas in a low key fashion. For example, on Christmas Eve some Christian Koreans may start a prayer marathon that lasts until midnight. Some exchange presents and decorate their house with a tree and some don’t, it really depends upon the person. In regards to gift giving, that also depends upon the person. Sometimes Koreans may give money as a present, instead of an actual gift. If you feel uncomfortable about giving money, you can also give a gift certificate as well. To be honest, sometimes I prefer getting money as a present, because I haven’t always liked the gifts I’ve gotten. I guess it’s the thought that counts…
Well if you don’t want to give money you can always make gifts that come from the heart that everyone will enjoy. Hankwa (한과) is a general term for Korean sweets. Here are some dessert ideas that will please your Korean friends:
1) Yakgwa (약과) is made by kneading some wheat flour and frying it in honey and seasame oil. Sometimes instead of wheat flour rice flour is used. Also, in place of honey, rice wine can also be used as well. Yakgwa (약과) is brown in color and is made in the mold of a flower. These cookie like sweets can get stale very quickly, so make sure they’re refrigerated properly. As for taste, I would say they taste close to what I feel ginger snap cookies taste like.
2) Sukshilkwa (숙실과) is made by boiling some fruits, ginger, and pine nuts in water mixed with honey. You can add chestnuts as well. Sukshilkwa (숙실과) come in a variety of colors. Some are tannish, some are blackish, some are white, etc. As for taste, it really depends on the ingreedients. If you add in lots of sugar and honey, it has a tendency to be sweeter.
3) Jungkwa (정과) is made by boiling either fruits or plant roots in honey and some mulyot (물엿) or Korean liquid candy. It’s soft like jello. You can pretty much put anything in jungkwa (정과) including carrots, ginseng, melons, sweet potatoes, etc. Food coloring is optional. It tastes like American jello, but less sweeter.
By the way, you don’t have to make these by hand. You can find these goodies at your local Korean grocery store. It’s a good time to start trying something new. Who knows, you might actually grow to like Korean sweets!