There it is, the famous natural sweet and sticky liquid — honey! Mixing the clear, golden amber into anything makes it taste like heaven, and if you decide to take more than a spoonful, be careful — you might turn into Winnie The Pooh! Hopefully, you won’t be tempted to eat a whole jar of it, as it can be very useful in small amounts. Honey has been used as a remedy for the common cold, as well as a great substitute for sugar. Giving the foods a richer, more profound taste, honey has been often used in Korean cuisine, especially for making desserts and snacks. From traditional to modern favorites, let’s take a look at some of them now!
Gangjeong (강정), like most traditional Korean desserts, is the kind of sweet snack to be served during important events such as weddings, ancestral rites and Korean New Year celebrations. It is a traditional Korean sweet dessert made with glutinous rice flour. This deep-fried "rice puff" is often made with beans, nuts, seeds, spices, nutty grains and other ingredients. It has a shiny surface because of the honey sticking everything together, and because you can decide what you want to put in it, it’s possible to create your own design and turn it into a pretty gift.
Hangwa (한과) is a general term for traditional Korean confections, thus making yakgwa (약과) a type of deep-fried, wheat-based hangwa made with honey, rice wine, sesame oil and ginger juice. The yak (약) in yakgwa means “medicine,” because in the past Koreans considered honey to be medicinal. Traditionally, the sweet was offered during events like ancestral rites, enjoyed on festive days such as Chuseok and marriages. In pre-modern Korea, the sweet and soft yakgwa was mostly enjoyed by the upper class, but nowadays it can be found at traditional markets or supermarkets, or even served as a dessert in restaurants.
- Honey Rice Cakes
Small, squishy, soft balls of joy, either drizzled or infused with a honey syrup — who wouldn’t want to dig into that colorful sweetness? It’s a perfect snack for sugarholics and a nice dessert to enjoy with a hot cup of tea to balance out the sweetness. Usually, these rice cakes are served plain, but you can find various ones filled with sesame seeds, dusted with roasted soybean powder or sitting in a sweet honey sauce, just waiting to be devoured.
Kkul-tarae (꿀타래) is a hard dough of honey and maltose mixture which is stretched, kneaded and twisted many times into 16,384 skeins of soft-looking threads. Then, small portions of it are cut off and wrapped around an assortment of crushed candied nuts, chocolate and other fillings. It is well-known street food, a variation of Dragon’s Beard Candy. It’s easy to notice the vendors doing a little show of making the candy, some telling a story and some explaining the process, entertaining the crowd.
- Honey Butter Chips
If you have never tried it, then you’re in for a treat. Once you open the bag, the buttery and slightly sweet aroma welcomes your senses and it truly is hard not to give in and devour the whole bag in just a few minutes. These chips are extremely addictive, unsurprisingly reaching renowned popularity in South Korea in the past few years. The youth, as always, were eager to share the tasty chips on social media, and celebrities like Sooyoung from Girls’ Generation, Siwon from Super Junior, actress So Yoo-Jin and others endorsed the snack, creating the “Honey Butter Craze.” The chips are manufactured by Haitai-Calbee and have special edition packaging and hints of flavors like maple-syrup, lavender and cherry blossom.
- Honey Butter Tangerine Chips
Born in Jeju, these chips are quite unique and a must-try for snack lovers all over the world. The tangerines, grown and dried in Jeju still smell fresh when you open the packaging. You can choose from a sweet honey butter and a yogurt coating, which makes these orange dried fruits even more appealing. It’s a perfect snack during the winter when the weather is chilly and the memory of warmth could be consumed in one bite of a crunchy tangerine.
- Honey Twists
This sticky and super crunchy honey snack is the best to munch on whenever you feel like you miss a little sweetness in your life. Created by Nongshim, which also made the same swirly flavor of honey and apple, the snack is simple and not too sweet. Some love it, some don’t mind it, so you would have to try it for yourself. Glazed with Korean acacia honey, the Honey Twists are yet another Korean snack worth checking out.
Honey is good to mend a sore throat, and an even better ingredient to make plenty of different tasty snacks and desserts. From traditional Korean desserts to modern sweet snacks, honey has always been a big part of Korean cuisine. Of course, there is no harm of eating a spoonful of just the shiny golden honey, but where’s the fun in that? Seeing all of these yummy sweets, what is the honey snack of your dreams? Share with us in the comments below!
Written by Ruta Balzekaite