As is the case in many countries, honey in Korea is regarded as a highly nutritious food that cures various ailments. It’s no surprise then that these fried sweets, known as yakgwa, literally mean ‘medicinal confectionery’.
- 450 g (3 cups) plain flour, sifted
- 90 ml sesame oil
- 115 g (⅓ cup) Tasmanian leatherwood honey (see Note)
- 60 ml (¼ cup) sake (see Note)
- vegetable oil, to deep-fry
- 50 g (⅓ cup) pine nuts, finely chopped
- 1 tbsp sesame seeds, toasted
Ginger honey syrup
- 125 ml (½ cup) rice malt syrup (see Note)
- 350 g (1 cup) Tasmanian leatherwood honey (see Note)
- 10 cm piece ginger, thinly sliced
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
Resting time 1 hour 15 minutes
Place flour in a large bowl and pour over sesame oil. Using your fingertips, rub oil into flour until combined. In a separate bowl, whisk together honey, sake and 60ml (¼ cup) water, then add to flour mixture and knead for 5 minutes or until dough comes together. Wrap in plastic wrap and set aside to rest for 30 minutes.
Roll out dough on a lightly floured work surface until 1.5 cm thick. Cut dough into 3 cm strips, then cut each strip on an angle to make about 20 diamond shapes.
To make syrup, place all ingredients and 350 ml water in a saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a simmer, then remove from heat and pour syrup into a shallow dish that is large enough to fit all the pastries.
Fill a deep-fryer or large saucepan one-third full with oil and heat over medium heat until temperature reaches 100°C on a sugar thermometer. Working in batches, gently drop pastries into oil and fry, turning halfway, for 5 minutes or until they float on the surface. Remove from pan and increase heat to 180ºC (or until a cube of bread turns golden in 10 seconds). Working in batches, return pastries to pan and fry, turning halfway, for a further 3 minutes or until golden. Remove with a slotted spoon and while hot, transfer to syrup and leave to soak for 45 minutes.
Remove pastries with a slotted spoon, discarding syrup, and transfer to a tray lined with baking paper. Scatter over pine nuts and sesame seeds to serve. Pastries will keep in an airtight container for up to 3 days.
• Tasmanian leatherwood honey is a floral, amber honey with a hint of spice. Substitute with any light, floral honey.
• Sake is a Japanese rice wine from bottle shops.
• Rice malt syrup is available from Korean food shops and health food shops.
Photography by Chris Chen. Food preparation by Phoebe Wood. Styling by Vivien Walsh.
As seen in Feast magazine, September 2014, Issue 35.