Canadian Doenjang Ep. 10: Sujeonggwa (수정과)

Cheers! Let's drink!
Cheers! Let’s drink!

Today we’re going to talk about one of the traditional Korean drinks that are available. I first had sujeonggwa (수정과, Korean cinnamon dessert punch) as ‘dessert’ after a meal in a Korean restaurant while I was living in Korea. And that’s not unusual, especially in the nicer restaurants.

The first time I drank sujeonggwa, there was a choice of either it or another traditional Korean drink called shikhye (식혜, a sweet rice drink). I immediately fell in love with sujeonggwa – it’s a delightful blend of sweet and spicy – and have been drinking it ever since. 

Imagine my surprise when I found out how easy it is to make!

A simple recipe with only a few ingredients
A simple recipe with only a few ingredients

Traditionally, sujeonggwa is made and served on New Year’s but I find it’s a lovely drink all winter long. Even though it’s served cold, the flavours of cinnamon and ginger work perfectly with the colder weather and seem to warm one up. I can also understand why it’s served as a dessert as it works well as one.

And since we love our lovely readers and viewers, I want to save you some of the hassle I had looking for dried persimmons. I visited a couple different Korean grocery stores and had no luck finding them. Jen, our lovely camera operator and editor supreme checked out a few Chinese markets and still no luck. Turned out we were looking in the wrong part of the store! Dried persimmons aren’t found with other dried fruit nor with the cinnamon sticks… they’re in the freezer section. I found them there totally by random one day. So when you go to make sujeonggwa, head to the freezer section of your Korean grocery store to find the dried persimmons.

Another shopping tip: cinnamon sticks are way cheaper in Korean grocery stores!

Sujeonggwa Recipe

Ingredients:

  • 10 cups water
  • 10-12 cinnamon sticks (I usually use 13 because I really like cinnamon)
  • ½ cup of ginger, peeled and sliced
  • 3/4 – 1 cup of brown sugar (I cut this back to 3/4 because I don’t like it too sweet)
  • 5 dried persimmons
  • pine nuts (for garnish)
Boiling the cinnamon and ginger.
Boiling the cinnamon and ginger.

Directions:

1. Add the 10 cups of water to a large pot.

2. Add the cinnamon sticks to the pot.

3. Peel and coarsely slice (about 2-3 mm wide) ginger. Add them to the pot.

4. Bring the water to a boil. Lower the heat to medium-low, cover and simmer for 45 minutes. Check occasionally to make sure it doesn’t boil over.

5. Stir in brown sugar and simmer for an additional 5 minutes, until completely dissolved.

6. Strain liquid into a pitcher or bowl that is heat-resistant, discarding solids (cinnamon and ginger). If I make it for myself, I use a pitcher as it stores easier in the fridge but if it’s for company, I use a pretty glass punch bowl.

7. Add the dried persimmons and allow liquid to cool to room temperature for 30 minutes or so and then refrigerate for at least two hours before serving.

8. Serve in small bowls or cups and garnish with pine nuts. You can also serve with the softened persimmons, sliced or whole. I prefer sliced as it’s easier to eat but whole looks really pretty so if serving for company, I leave 3 whole in the glass punch bowl for decoration and slice up the other 2 to be served, putting a couple of pieces in each cup.

Don’t worry if you don’t drink it all in one sitting, it will keep in the fridge for up to a week.

Sweet! It's chilled and ready to serve.
Sweet! It’s chilled and ready to serve.

Tip: if you are serving for company or a party, fill an ice tray with punch and freeze it. You can then add the punch cubes to the punch to keep it cold without diluting it.

Easy, right?! Don’t forget to leave a comment once you make it and let us know how it tasted!

Cindy Zimmer

Live life to the fullest everyday - this is a the philosophy I try to live by and it's taken me on many adventures. I write about Korean culture from a non-Korean perspective as the editor/founder of ATK Magazine and I'm the Chair of the Board of Directors of the Toronto Korean Film Festival (TKFF). Previously, I ran a Korean-English language exchange group (in Toronto) for 3 years to stay connected to my three years living in Korea as an English teacher. I love music, film, food and sports and write about 3 of the 4.

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