Sujeonggwa (수정과) is a traditional Korean dessert beverage. This chilled punch is made from brewed cinnamon and ginger, sweetened with brown sugar. In this popular, traditional variant (geonsisujeonggwa) it is served with soaked dried persimmon and garnished with pine nuts.
The earliest known sujeonggwa recipe dates back to 1849. And in the Goryeo era, Korean palace women would prepare a version of this drink on New Year's Day. However, these early versions of this drink did not include cinnamon as an ingredient, and now it is a staple.
In the late-autumn and winter seasons when persimmons are in season, sujeonggwa is served to visiting house guests. You will also find it served at restaurants after the end of a meal. Both ginger and cinnamon have a naturally sweet-spicy flavour that gives a warming sensation, and properties that help prevent you from catching a cold, making this drink extra welcome in cold weather. They also serve as a digestive aid, making this sweet punch the perfect dessert after a hearty Korean feast.
Is sujeonggwa healthy?
Sujeonggwa is packed full of ingredients with great health benefits!
Cinnamon is loaded with antioxidants and has anti-inflammatory and anti-microbial properties. It is also known for reducing the risk of heart disease, lowering blood glucose levels, and other wonderful health benefits.
Ginger fights germs and bacteria, lowers blood sugar and cholesterol, relieves nausea and indigestion, and acts as a natural pain relief, among other health benefits.
Pine nuts, the optional but delicious garnish for sujeonggwa, are rich in antioxidants as well. They can help protect from heart disease and cognitive decline.
How to make it
To make sujeonggwa, you are going to need two medium pots and a large pot, all with lids. Because of the long boil time, if your pots have vented lids (like mine do), too much of the precious liquid can be lost through evaporation. You can stem this problem by taking a sheet of paper towel folded into a small square, soak it in cold water, and place it on top of the lids' vent holes. You may need to re-soak them as they dry out part way through the cook time, but be careful as they will be very hot.
In sujeonggwa, the cinnamon and ginger are boiled separately at first so that they don't diminish each other's flavour or aroma. Place the cinnamon sticks into a medium pot. Pour in four cups of water and cover it with a lid. Bring it to a boil over medium heat, then set a timer and allow it to continue to boil for forty minutes.
At the same time, place the peeled and sliced ginger into your other medium pot. Add in four cups of water and boil it, covered, for forty minutes as well.
After the forty minutes, strain the two pots into the large pot, removing and disposing of any solids or debris.
Measure a cup of brown sugar into the large pot and stir it in. Allow it to boil, covered, for another ten minutes.
Remove the pot from the heat and allow it to cool. Once it has cooled enough, transfer the punch to a pitcher and continue to cool it covered in the refrigerator overnight, or until it is cold.
Sujeonggwa is served with no ice cubes, but as cold as possible. Some people like to lightly freeze part of the punch (only until the ice is still mashable with a fork) then mix that in with the rest of the chilled punch to make it extra cold.
Dried persimmon is added to the punch after it has fully cooled; and about two hours before being served. This is just long enough for the dried persimmon to really release its flavours into the punch. Any longer and the clear punch will become murky and dark as the fruit begins to disintegrate.
Persimmons have a sweet and tangy flavour, described as being something between a mango and a roasted sweet pepper. Fresh persimmons are not used in sujeonggwa. I was able to find dried persimmons in the frozen aisle of a Korean grocery store. However, they can be difficult to find or only seasonally available, depending on where you live. Definitely use them if you can. But don't fret - this recipe is delicious with or without them.
Serve the Korean cinnamon ginger punch with a soaked persimmon; and sprinkle the top with some toasted pine nuts to add a wonderful, nutty fragrance. See my easy guide on how to toast pine nuts.
How to store sujeonggwa
Before storing any remaining sujeonggwa, remove any pieces of persimmon that may still be soaking. Store sujeonggwa in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a week.Print
A traditional Korean dessert drink made from brewing cinnamon and ginger, served with dried persimmons and toasted pine nuts. This delicious, sweet drink is perfect for serving in chilly weather and is packed with healthy nutrients.
8 cups (1.89 L) water
40 g fresh ginger, peeled and sliced
25 g cinnamon sticks
1 cup (200 g) light brown sugar
dried persimmon (optional) *
toasted pine nuts (optional)
Place cinnamon sticks and ginger slices into two separate medium-sized pots. Add 4 cups of water to each. Cover and boil over medium heat for 40 minutes.
Strain both pots into a large pot, discarding any solids or debris. Stir in brown sugar. Cover and boil over medium heat for 10 minutes.
Remove from heat and allow to cool. Once cool enough, transfer to a covered pitcher and cool in the refrigerator overnight, or until cold. Sujeonggwa is served cold without ice cubes.
If using dried persimmon, add it to the punch to soak after the punch has fully cooled, about 2 hours before serving so that the flavour can infuse. Do not leave the persimmon soaking in the punch any longer or the clear punch will begin to get cloudy with the disintegrating fruit.
Serve the Korean cinnamon ginger punch with a piece of soaked dried persimmon; and garnished with some toasted pine nuts to add a delicious, nutty fragrance. Check out my easy guide for how to toast pine nuts.
Before storing any remaining sujeonggwa, make sure that you have removed any persimmon that may still be soaking. Store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to a week.
* Dried persimmon can be difficult to find or only seasonally available, depending on where you live. I was able to find it in the frozen aisle at a Korean grocery store. I prefer the sliced option over the whole, for presentation. Fresh persimmon cannot be used in sujeonggwa. However, if you can't find any, this punch is still delicious without it.
Keywords: korean punch, sujeonggwa