Subak Hwachae (Korean Watermelon Punch)

Subak hwachae is a Korean traditional fruit punch! Play around with different fruits and drinks, and enjoy refreshing Korean hwachae this summer! Korean watermelon punch in a bowl

 
I have to admit, there’s no sweet concoction that I dislike. But, I’m especially partial to fruit desserts. Here, I’m introducing hwachae, which is a Korean traditional fruit punch that’s commonly made with various fruits and sweet drinks and served as a dessert or snack. Hwachae made with watermelon (subak) is a summer favorite!

There are many variations of Korean hwachae, 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, or liquid from soaking dried fruits such as omija (magnolia berry) or edible flower petals. Today, it’s common to use carbonated drinks and fruit juices.

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.

Fruit options are endless! I added some deliciously ripe honeydew in addition to watermelon. 

If you want to make it really fancy, add some rice cake balls, which aren’t hard to make. In this recipe, I’m sharing 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!

a Korean punch drink with watermelon and rice cake balls in a glass bowl

a Korean punch drink with watermelon and rice cake balls in a glass bowl

Subak Hwachae (Korean Watermelon Punch)

5 from 2 votes
Dessert, Drinks
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Servings: 4
Author: Hyosun
Print Recipe

Ingredients

  • 2 cups watermelon, balled or cubed
  • 1-1/2 cups honeydew melon
  • 12 - 16 rice cake balls (gyeongdan)- optional
  • 2 cups ginger ale
  • 3 tablespoons Korean drinking vinegar or pomegranate or cranberry juice
  • 1 tablespoon pine nuts for garnish - optional

Optional rice cake balls:

  • 1/2 cup glutinous rice powder aka sweet rice powder
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • pinch salt
  • 4 tablespoons boiling hot water

Instructions

  • Make optional rice cake balls (recipe 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.
    Watermelon and honeydew balls for punch in a glass bowl
  • 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).

Optional rice cake balls

  • Mix the rice powder, sugar and salt in a bowl. Mix in the boiling hot water with a spoon. When cool enough to handle, knead by hand until a dough is formed.
    kneading rice for rice balls
  • Shape the dough into a 3/4-inch thick cylinder. Cut into (or pinch of3/4-inch pieces. Roll each piece between the palms to make a small ball.
    cutting and shaping rice batter into balls
  • 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.
    cooking rice balls in water
Tried this recipe?Mention @koreanbapsang or tag #koreanbapsang!

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Comments

  1. Jil-Anne Essinger says

    We are going to a party with a Korean theme and I am bringing this as a dessert. Do I put this all together at the last minute or mix it ahead of time to let the flavors blend? I assume it is at the last minute because I would want the ginger ale to still have it’s “fizz”. Thanks for your help.

  2. Hello, I want to try to make this recipe for a get together. How far ahead can I make it? Thanks.

    • You can make rice cakes ahead of time, freeze, and boil right before using. The drink and fruits will be best prepared on the same day. Enjoy!

  3. can you tell me how the rice balls are stored after they are cooked? and for how long?

    thank you in advance!! 🙂

    • You can freeze them for up to 2 to 3 months. Freeze first on a tray with no pieces touching and then put them in a freezer bag.

  4. elaine's Chinese recipes says

    That’s a great recipe and we use Chinese watermelon also in the Chinese version.

  5. Very beautiful i love the colors! Must have tasted great!

  6. katherine Martinelli says

    So pretty!! And it sounds very refreshing indeed.

  7. I found your blog through a web search for a bibimbap recipe and lady, your blog is AWESOME! Thanks so much for sharing such great recipes! This fruit dessert was a hit with my family. And so was the bibimbap. Now we all want to go Korea! Thanks!

  8. This is something new to me and it looks fantastic!

  9. I already feel refreshed only looking at your beautiful punch. It sounds delicious.

  10. Nami | Just One Cookbook says

    We have similar dessert called Shiratama Dango but usually not with watermelon. I love how you scoop watermelon to be the same ball shape! So pretty and perfect summer treat.

  11. I have no idea how to pronounce the dish but it looks wonderful – very light and refreshing for a summer’s day. I love the look of the rice balls as well… so pretty!

  12. Anna @ The Littlest Anchovy says

    Really interested in that Korean drinking vinegar! This looks so fresh and inviting!

  13. Biren @ Roti n Rice says

    Your watermelon punch looks so refreshing! I am curious about that drinking vinegar. Will have to check it out.

  14. How cool! love the rice cake in this fruit salad! It gives it a special touch!

  15. Sandra M. says

    Very delicious fruit salad. I love your recipe for rice cake balls, simple but I am imagining that it take this salad to the new level. Great job as always!

  16. Wow this is a very interesting fruity dish, I thought initially it was similar to the Asian almond jelly and melons but as I read there were rice balls in there. Yum!

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