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          Hangwa[Korean Sweets]
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          • 요약설명 Refined Colors, Sweet Tastes

          The history of traditional Korean sweets, or Hangwa, is deeply related to the cultural practice of ancestral rites. In seasons when no fresh fruits were available, fruit-shaped sweets were made from powdered grain and honey. The branches from these fruits were added to the dish before it was placed on ancestral rites tables. During the Joseon Dynasty, whenever a banquet was held at the royal court, confectionaries such as Yakgwa (deep-fried honey cookies), Dasik (tea confectionery), or Gangjeong (deep-fried sweet rice puffs) were piled high on the banquet tables. This practice was called ‘Goinda’ meaning ‘stack up high’ and an average of 24 different kinds of hangwa were piled as tall as 55 centimeters to create an imposing banquet table.

          Crispy Crunchy Gangjeong
          Gangjeong (sweet deep-fried rice puffs) is notoriously difficult to make. Sweet rice powder is mixed with liquor and honey and steamed. A small amount of honey is added once again, they are cut into slices one half centimeter thick, three centimeters long and one half a centimeter wide, and then left to dry in the shade. After soaking in liquor overnight, they are dried and deep-fried in oil. Fried Gangjeongs are coated in grain syrup and then coated with other ingredients such as beans or sesame seeds. As demonstrated by the popular phrase ‘hollow Gangjeong,’ well-made Gangeong is deep-fried until it puffs up and becomes airy in the center. Gangjeong is naturally healthy, as it uses medicinal herbs and natural ingredients. For instance, the puffed cereal coating of Gangjeong may be dyed pink with gromwell (Jicho), yellow with pine pollen, or brown with cinnamon powder.

          Sweet Dasik that Melts in the Mouth
          Dasik was made with powdered rice, chestnuts or beans combined with honey or syrup and shaped in a patterned wooden mold (Dasik-pan) into decorative forms. The shapes include a letter, flower, of geometric figure. In the Joseon Dynasty era, Dasik was an essential part of the table setting for special ceremonies, such as ancestral rites, weddings, and holidays. The compressed sweets also served as an emergency medicine. Heukimja-dasik, made with black sesame seeds, was useful for treating food poisoning, vomiting or diarrhea. Dotori-dasik or acorn Dasik were effective for suppressing coughing. Sanyak-dasik contained medicinal ingredients and was good for improving the health of the feeble. It was, in fact, so often served to elderly parents that they came to be called Hyoja-dasik, meaning dasik for filial piety. Dasik is soft, sweet, and melts in the mouth. They were frequently served with tea or for dessert.

          Sweet and Savory Yakgwa
          Yakgwa refers to Yumilgwa (deep-fried grain cookies) made with wheat flour mixed with honey and sesame oil, pressed in a Yakgwa-pan (Yakgwa frame), and slowly deep-fried. Afterwards, the sweets are dipped in syrup or honey to firm up the texture. According to shape, Gungjung-yakgwa (royal court Yakgwa) refers to an elaborate flower-shaped version molded in a Yakgwa frame, while a bite-sized, square-shaped variety is known as Gaeseongmo- yakgwa. Yakgwa boasts a long tradition and is said to have first been made for Buddhist sacrificial rites during the United Silla period. With a soft texture and sweet flavor, it is one of the most popular sweets that children rush to eat at the end of an ancestral rite.

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