Crowd-Pleasing Korean Dessert (or Savory Side Dish) for Thanksgiving

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This topic contains 11 replies, has 7 voices, and was last updated by  Maangchi 4 years, 11 months ago.

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    I’m looking for a Korean dessert recipe that:

    • would serve about 12-15 people,

    • is not too complicated or expensive,

    • would mesh well with the traditional flavors of Thanksgiving,

    • and would be accessible to those who don’t have very adventurous palates.

    Hoddeok is a strong contender, as it fulfills all these requirements, but I haven’t settled on anything yet. (Hmm…cranberry sauce or pumpkin pie fillings, anyone?)

    I could also go the savory route and make a Korean side dish that fulfills the above requirements as well as those below.

    • Nothing too strong in flavor. This is likely the first exposure to Korean cuisine for some of my relatives, and I don’t want to give them more than they can handle.

    • Nothing spicy. Two of my relatives cannot handle spicy food, and I don’t want to alienate them.

    Right now, I don’t have any ideas except hoddeok with savory fillings. Does anyone have any non-hoddeok ideas? :)

    I apologize for these specific requirements, but I hope I can get a few more suggestions before Thanksgiving for a dish that fulfills them. I’m posting this now to give adequate time for responses.



    I would recommend rice punch!

    The flavor is mild, ingredients cheap, the only thing u need is time and effort to make it!

    you could also try hwajeon

    Rice cakes

    and my favorite, maejakgwa*****



    Those are all good suggestions. I love shikhye and ginger-flavored cookies, though I’ve never made them. I think most, if not all, of these recipes would go over well for most of my relatives. I really know very little about their personal tastes, so that’s why I’m trying to keep the flavors light and not too “exotic.” I like the sometimes strong, spicy, complex flavors in Korean cuisine, but I can’t speak for the rest of my family. I may be underestimating them, but it’s better to err on the side of caution.

    At any rate, please keep the suggestions coming!

    I should also note that recipes do not have to come from Maangchi’s site. If anyone has a personal/family recipe or a link to an English-language recipe on another site that would meet my requirements, please don’t hesitate to post.



    Sujunggwa might be too “weird” but is sure is delicious:

    and I could see it as acting kind of like cranberry sauce as a refreshing alternative to heavy turkey.



    Sujeonggwa actually sounds like a great idea. A sweet drink with warm cinnamon and ginger sounds like a great complement to the rest of the desserts (pumpkin pies, pecan pies, apple desserts, and such). There is going to be cranberry sauce with the main meal, of course, but as a refreshing after-dinner drink, I think this recipe would go over well.

    Do dried persimmons have any sort of tartness in the flesh itself, or do they impart any into the water? I’d like it if they did; otherwise, I may have to add some lemon juice or something.

    I’ll need to see if my local K-market carries dried persimmons first, though…

    Oh, and I just found this dessert in my Korean cookbook: A sweet potato jelly which is just cooked, mashed sweet potatoes mixed with gelatin, maple syrup, and sesame seeds, then refrigerated in a rectangular mold. It looks easy and not too sweet. I don’t know what it’s called in Korean (if anyone knows, please post it), but that’s another option for me.

    Please keep the suggestions coming!



    I made sujungwa for my family one Thanksgiving and it did go really well with the foods. Not everyone tried it unfortunately, but those who did, liked it.




    I think I’ll make a decision around November 11 (i.e. two weeks before Thanksgiving), but for the benefit of others, don’t hesitate to post after that date if you have any other ideas.


    “Not everyone tried it unfortunately…”

    Yeah, I’m afraid that’s going to be the case for me, no matter what I make. It’s a somewhat picky/set-in-their-ways bunch I’m dealing with, and there’s really not much I can do about that. On the bright side, if I have to end up eating or drinking most of what I make, at least I’ll enjoy it.



    Check this out. I posted sweet manju pastry recipe today.



    LOL! I am putting my 2 cents in everywhere today! My husband is away….

    Thanksgiving is a particularly patriotic holiday, no matter which country is celebrating it, so it is not uncommon to find culinary reservations at this time. People are often more concerned with food traditions at this time.

    This being said, perhaps it would be better to introduce something new that does not in fact “interfere” with the meal or desserts themselves. Perhaps a drink before dinner?

    Although sujungwa is classically served after dinner in korea, it can certainly be served before hand.

    I have another suggestion – sengang cha – ginger tea. It is similar to sujungwa in flavor, but without the persimmon. You could serve it with cocktails, or as an alternative to soft drinks or lemonade. And it is super easy to make.

    I have found that dried persimmons are extremely difficult to find, and the most likely time would probably be late fall to early winter. The reason is – most of these are left to dry on trees and sugared on the tree. At least the best ones are, and because they are labor intensive are not commonly exported. The ones you will commonly find are usually done in a factory, but they are still tough to find.

    I have a couple of alternatives for this though. I have not ever found them in regular American stores.

    First – Sengang cha – wash and thinly slice a hand of ginger. You can peel it if you wish, but it is not strictly necessary. Place ginger in 2-3 quarts of water – depending on size of hand of ginger, bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes, or until liquid begins to taste spicy and “gingery”. Strain. Add honey to taste – 1/2 cup or more, cinnamon to taste and garnish wth soaked jujubees and pine nuts. This can be served hot or cold, and if bottled keeps 3 days in fridge. This is particularly good for your health as well as delicious. Great warm if you have a cold or flu, good for stomach aches, and motion sickness. Very refreshing served cold on a hot summer day. You can even spike it to make a punch.

    If you want to make sujungwa and cannot find dried persimmons, you can dry your own. You want asian persimmons, which are more squat looking, not western ones which are longer and softer in texture. They usually become available in October, and if you have access to an asian market are usually more reasonably priced than in a regular grocery store.

    You want to use them when they just begin to have “give” when you press. remove leaves, wash and slice into 3 to 4 slices horizontally. Be careful, they are slippery!

    Dip into sugar and dry as follows.

    If you have a food dehydrator place on racks and dry at low temp until leathery, but not brittle. Can’t give you exact timing – too many variables, like fruit size, ambient humidity, fruit age…la la la.

    If you do not have access to a dehydrator you can use a box fan. Measure the fan and purchase furnace filters that are made from cellulose – NOT FIBERGLASS! They are relatively inexpensive. You need to have at least two, but more if you have lots of fruit to dry. Both sides of the fruit must be enclosed by the filter. Lay out filter, put a layer of persimmon slices, top with another filter, lay on more fruit, top with another filter.

    Lay the fan on the floor. You want the side that the air comes out facing up. Place the fruit filled filters on top. Bungie cord the filters to the fan – Don’t do this too tightly. Use at least two bungies – top and bottom, or criss cross. At this point you should be able to stand the fan up. Turn on fan to at least medium and check every few hours.

    You can peel the persimmons if you wish, but they will become very slippery. You don’t HAVE to peel them, but if you wish to I suggest slicing them first.

    Good Luck!



    Check out my another easy and delicious recipe called baesuk (steamed pear) please.


    MusiChef TJ

    Hello all,

    This is my first time posting… when you said Thanksgiving & Korean dessert,

    I immediately thought of SuJungGwa. For my french culinary school menu project, I once made sorbet out of Sujunggwa and served it with a wine poached pear. It was a big hit! :)

    For this Thanksgiving, I made Momofuku style roasted brussels sprouts with fish sauce as side and everyone loved it! True East meets West! can check out my blog for the recipe.

    Happy Holiday everyone!


    ps- Thank you Maangchi for awesome videos and recipes (a friend of mine – Dan Quach from california introduced me to your blog a few years ago and today I came across your site, this time, I became a member of your website :) will come back again soon!



    Nice meeting you TJ! Awesome!

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