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!
Subak Hwachae (Korean Watermelon Punch)Dessert, Drinks
- 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
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.