Monday, August 17, 2015

Cold & Refreshing Korean Watermelon Soup (Hwachae)...

I`ve always been attracted to fruity Asian desserts and beverages that excite the senses-- flavourful, textural and beautifully presented. When the humidity of the summer air creates parched throats everywhere, Korean Hwachae`s refreshing soothing cold fruit soup is guaranteed to quench and quell! Asian cuisines often call this kind of dessert a soup-- a dessert you can eat and a beverage you can drink in one! I am amazed at the unlimited varieties you can make with a simple punch base-- water sweetened with honey or syrup, and any fruit(s) you wish. The consistency could be thin or chunky. Traditionally, Omija tea (known as the five-flavour berry) was used as the base sweetened with honey, added with in-season fruits, pine nuts and flower petals. These days, part of the base has since been commonly replaced with a simple punch base as above or fruit juices, carbonated beverages such as ginger ale, 7up or Korean carbonated milk beverage Milkis for its creamy taste, or regular, flavoured or condensed milk. Or make it truly an adult drink with alcohol-- soju, a Korean vodka will work perfectly or regular vodka is fine. The remaining base is concocted by the natural juice of fruits you add. Watermelon is by far the most popular fruit, offering up a lot of juice and bringing out the best of summer`s essence. Unless you are using a carbonated base, Hwachae should be prepared several hours in advance or overnight, and refrigerated to allow all the flavours to intermingle.

From top left clockwise: Traditional Omija with pear flowers and pine nuts, Mixed fruit medley Photo Credit: Galleria:
Korean Food WITH Flair Aug 2015 issue, Mixed fruit with milk, and Mixed fruit in carbonated juice (Galleria).

I read that a Korean celebrity introduced a different version of watermelon Hwachae by adding strawberry milk making it a huge hit... So I must give this a try-- I didn`t get a recipe-- but how hard is it to just mix up a few ingredients to my own taste... And since I am creating bowls with both halves of the hollowed out watermelon, I shall make two fruit punches-- YEAH!... But first let`s prepare the cool-looking punch bowls!

Take a whole watermelon, slice a piece off both ends to create a flat bottom (not too deep to puncture the flesh or it will leak), and cut fruit in half. With a large spoon, scoop out all the fruit and place into a container and pour out all it juice into a large bowl; use immediately or freeze for several hours (the pieces should be chunky with some small pieces). This is a perfect scooping activity for your little ones!

Take a small knife, cut triangles or alternating squares working your way around the melon rim (don`t worry about being perfect-- no one will notice or care). Remove the melon pieces from the freezer-- it should be slushy and icy but not frozen hard; if it is give an hour or so to thaw a bit. 

Cut alternating squares to resemble a castle or a fortress.

Which one do I like better?

Korean Watermelon and Strawberry Milk Soup 

1 hollowed watermelon half
watermelon pieces and juice
strawberries, washed and quartered (If not sweet enough, toss with some sugar and let sit for 1/2 hour)
strawberry milk
ice if desired

To serve, place the strawberries in the hollowed watermelon. Add the watermelon and pour in the milk. This should fill the watermelon if not top up with more strawberry milk. If not serving right away refrigerate. Add ice if desired upon serving.

Perfectly sweet with a creamy taste, bite and refreshing for a hot day!

I also wanted to try to make Pear Hwachae with watermelon as the base, and pears cut out into small shapes. My parents just picked a bag of bartlett pears from a pear tree in their backyard, so I was thrilled to use some in this cool soup. 

Korean Icy Watermelon and Pear Flower Soup 

1 hollowed watermelon half
watermelon pieces and juice, pulsed or blended to smooth
1 or 2 Korean or Asian pears or other firm pears, peeled
1 cup of ice

To serve, add the watermelon juice in the hollowed watermelon. Slice pears in 1/4" thin pieces. Cut into decorative shapes using a small cookie/pastry cutter. Stars and flowers are most popular. Add to watermelon as well as ice upon serving. Note: If the soup is not sweet enough add honey or sugar dissolved in water to taste.

What a great centrepiece punch bowl for a party to celebrate the rest of summer and to beat the summer heat. Pear, watermelon, strawberry, orange, a fruit medley, thin, chunky, with fruit juice, carbonated drink, milk or alcohol... What kind of Hwachae would you like to try?


  1. Hi Susan! It's Lisa!
    This looks amazing! I just bought a watermelon and was thinking to make smoothies with it, then I saw your post!
    BTW you inspired me to create my own food blog! :) Check it out:

    1. Your blog is amazing Lisa! You were telling me you wanted to start one-- and there you go!! Looking forward to seeing what you're cooking-- Meal inspirations under 30 minutes sounds like a theme many idea- and time-starved parents and working professionals can use! Cheers!

    2. This comment has been removed by the author.

    3. Thank you so much Susan! I love your blog! It seems like we have similar taste in food :)
      And your boys are super cute... I miss them! I've been uploading my pictures on instagram and pinterest as well.

    4. Hi Lisa, thank you! My kids miss you too... keep your lovely blog up!!