It's time for World on a Plate again! This time, we are making fruit desserts. I have to admit, there's no sweet concoction that I dislike. But, I'm especially partial to fruit desserts. As I'm writing this, it makes me happy just to think about the local wild blueberry pie I recently had at a restaurant in Burlington, Vermont. A scoop of vanilla ice cream on top made it even better. I can't wait to check out what my friends at World on a Plate have made with summer fruits.
For my part, I've decided to introduce hwachae, which is a Korean traditional fruit punch. Hwachae is commonly made with various fruits and sweet drinks and served as a dessert or snack. There are many variations, and some are even made with edible flower petals or grains such as barley or rice cakes. Traditionally, the base drink is water sweetened with honey, syrup, or sugar. In modern times, carbonated drinks and fruit juices are also commonly used. Hwachae made with watermelon (subak) is a summer favorite. I made it here with ginger ale, but Sprite or 7 Up would work well too. I also added a little bit of Korean drinking vinegar made with black raspberries (bokbunja) to add color, acidity and, of course, another layer of flavor. You can substitute it with pomegranate or cranberry juice. You can also add any fruits you like. I added some deliciously ripe honeydew. If you want to make it really fancy, add some rice cake balls, which aren't hard to make. Below is a simple recipe for rice cake balls. Play around with different fruits and drinks, and enjoy Korean hwachae this summer. It's easy, refreshing, and full of summer flavor!
about 2 cups watermelon, balled or cubed
about 1-1/2 cups honeydew, balled or cubed
12 - 16 rice cake balls (gyeongdan) - optional (Recipe follows.)
2 cups ginger ale
3 tablespoons Korean drinking vinegar (or pomegranate or cranberry juice)
pine nuts for garnish - optional
Make the optional rice cake balls as shown below. Scoop out watermelon and honeydew with a melon-baller. (Or, cut into about 1-inch cubes.) Place them in a large bowl along with any juice from the fruits.
Add the ginger ale and the drinking vinegar (or pomegranate or cranberry juice) to the fruits. Stir gently. Taste the drink and adjust acidity and/or sweetness by adding more drinking vinegar (or juice) and/or sugar.
Simple rise cake balls:
1/2 cup glutinous rice powder/flour (aka sweet rice powder/flour)
2 teaspoons sugar
pinch of salt
4 tablespoons boiling hot water
Shape the dough into a 3/4-inch thick cylinder. Cut into (or pinch off) 3/4-inch pieces. Roll each piece between the palms to make a small ball.
Bring a pot of water to a boil. Add the rice cake balls. Cook until all the balls float. Transfer to a large bowl with cold water to cool. Drain.