YAKGWA (약과) to celebrate CHUSEOK (추석)


Chuseok is one of the most important holidays here in Korea. The date is not a fixed one, it is based on  the lunar cycles  and is always on a full moon day. In the lunar calendar it is the 15th day of the 8th month. This year it will be on September 12th but the holidays always extend one day before and one day after which means that this year it is going to be held from September 11th to 13th. This is a time when families gather to give thanks to their ancestors for the abundant harvest. For this reason, the festivities are always full of typical food, and one that has caught my attention is Yakgwa, not only for its beautiful flower shape but also because it is a surprisingly delicious sweet treat.

Yakgwa is a sweet sort of fried cookie made with ingredients that are common in Korean cuisine such as sesame oil, ginger juice, honey and even white pepper. A little odd perhaps for a western dessert, but the flavor combination is very interesting and the texture is amazing. I enjoyed it so much that I decided to publish the recipe in case anyone wants to be adventurous.




180g all purpose flour ( approx. 3/4 cup)
1/4 tsp salt
1 dash of finely ground white pepper
1/4 tsp finely ground cinnamon
3 Tbsp sesame oil
3 Tbsp honey
2 Tbsp soju (Korean rice wine. I guess vodka can be substituted but I haven't tried that)
2 Tbsp ginger juice
oil for frying


1 cup sugar
1 cup water
2 Tbsp honey
1 tsp ginger juice
1/2 tsp finely ground cinnamon


Start by juicing some ginger. Finely grate peeled ginger.

Squeeze the resulting pulp through a fine mesh or cheese cloth. Set aside.

Mix and sieve the flour, salt, cinnamon and pepper. Add sesame oil. It will be lumpy. 

Sieve again, pressing with a spoon. You could use a food processor here.

In a separate bowl, mix honey, soju and ginger juice. Add to the flour mixture and mix just until it is combined. Do not knead the dough!

On a working surface, pat the dough with your hand or using a rolling pin (do not roll the dough, just pat it) to flatten it out into a rectangle. Fold in three as if you were folding a letter. Turn it a 90 degree angle and repeat this procedure 2 more times leaving it a quarter of an inch thick (or thicker if you want your cookie taller). Sorry, no photos here :o/

 Cut the dough into desired forms or use flower shaped cookie cutters (these are the most traditional), and poke them with a fork.

Put about 2 inches of oil in a pan and heat it in low until it is 140°C (280°F). It should remain like that during all the frying process. 

While the oil is heating, prepare the syrup by boiling sugar and water in a small sauce pan for about 10 minutes in low heat. It should reduce in volume but shouldn't be thick. Turn off the heat and add honey, ginger juice and cinnamon. Set aside.

Fry the cookies until golden brown. In low heat, that will take about 10 to 15 minutes.

Strain excess oil on paper towels for a few minutes and then transfer the cookies to the syrup. They should stay there for a few hours.

Strain the syrup until it stops dripping. 

Garnish the cookies with some sesame seeds.


  1. Those are too cute and I am so bookmarking this recipe to try. I ADORE soju, addictive. Happy Chuseok

  2. This blog is awesome. Can someone suggest or guide me how to spell happy chuseok in korean languange?


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