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Goryeo Dynasty’s Sweet Secret: Gaeseong Juak Donuts Are the Latest Korean Sensation

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Are you familiar with Gaeseong Juak, the Goryeo Dynasty donut? As its popularity grows, Gaeseong Juak specialty stores are making their way into department stores and convenience stores, with some selling over a thousand pieces daily. Rising as a new powerhouse in K-desserts, what makes Gaeseong Juak so popular?

Soaring Popularity of Gaeseong Juak

The popularity of Gaeseong Juak is no small feat. With the trend of appreciating the old-fashioned or the Granny-chic trend continuing for several years, Gaeseong Juak has also been drawing attention. Like traditional Korean cookies made with glutinous rice flour for a chewier taste, it resembles modern glutinous rice donuts in flavor and shape. Unlike other desserts made with wheat flour, its rice flour base makes it digestively comfortable.

Traditional Snack from the Goryeo Dynasty

Originating from the Goryeo Dynasty’s Gaeseong region, Gaeseong Juak was also known as Gaeseong Umegi or Joak. It was a delicacy served to guests or at feast banquets. It was made by frying dough mixed with glutinous rice flour and makgeolli (rice wine) and then coated with syrup.

Origin of Its Unique Name

The name Gaeseong Juak is quite distinctive among traditional Korean sweets. Juak comes from the sound made when frying the dough. The name was inspired by the sound of the juaks bumping against each other like rolling stones during the final frying stage.

Delightful Chewy and Nutty Texture

Made by frying round dough balls made of glutinous rice flour, makgeolli, or sugar and then soaking them in syrup to fully absorb it before drying to a crisp, Gaeseong Juak’s charm lies in its chewy texture that enhances the sweetness of the syrup. The crispy fried texture combined with the sweet syrup offers a delightful taste experience with every bite.

Jocheong: A Key Ingredient in Gaeseong Juak

The initial taste and aroma of Gaeseong Juak are mainly due to Jocheong, a sweetener made by fermenting grains in malt, similar to honey. In traditional Korean medicine, Jocheong helps strengthen the body, alleviate coughs, and stop phlegm. It’s also rich in beta-carotene, known for its fatigue recovery and antioxidant effects.

Popular as a Premium Gift

Despite being somewhat unfamiliar, Gaeseong Juak has a unique charm distinct from traditional cookies, attracting those eager to experience it. It’s often sold as a high-end gift, highlighting another aspect of its uniqueness.

Surprising Price

As more people seek Gaeseong Juak following the trend, the price has become quite expensive. While prices vary by store, the average cost is between $2.20 and $2.65; some even charge up to $3.50. Some people find it too expensive for its small size and are content with watching videos of it. However, experts say this price range is reasonable given that making Gaeseong Juak is much more complex and challenging than typical baked snacks.

Calories Vary Depending on the Topping

Given its sweet coating, Gaeseong Juak’s high sugar content calls for cautious consumption, especially for those managing blood pressure or sugar levels. Being deep-fried, it’s also high in calories. With the addition of new toppings like ice cream, cream cheese, chocolate, or fruit, calories can vary greatly, urging moderation.

How to Enjoy Gaeseong Juak Deliciously

The best way to enjoy Gaeseong Juak is to store it in the freezer. Let it sit at room temperature for about 30 minutes before eating to enjoy the bursting juiciness inside its chewy texture. Its tantalizing chewiness without being too heavy makes consuming it dangerously easy in one sitting.

Perfect Drinks to Pair With

Gaeseong Juak goes well with warm tea, complementing cinnamon tea or the addictive taste of sujeonggwa (cinnamon punch). For those who prefer a chewier texture, adding carbonated water to pear and balloon flower root syrup or simply mixing it with warm water suits them well. Coffee-wise, a latte’s nutty sweetness or an Americano’s bitterness pairs beautifully with it.

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