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Oh Jong Ju: Holiday Gwahwaju

If a recipe is called a ‘gwahwaju’ it means that it was prepared in a special way using soju. First, godubap(steamed rice) is prepared and fermented with water and nuruk for 2-3 days. Then high proof soju is added to the brew, usually 30-40% alcohol. Usually, these recipes are made in the summer to help prevent contamination during hot weather months. However, the flavors of this recipe bring me back to memories of my childhood with cinnamon, spice, and everything nice.

This recipe was first published in 1809 in Gyuhap Chongseo which was known as the “Women’s Encyclopedia”. It gave the Joseon women of the time gave useful information on topics that were considered to be “women’s work”. This included making food, clothing, child rearing, first aid, farming, ancestral rituals, and brewing. Alcohol played an important role in ancestral rituals and during this era in Korean history, known as the Joseon Period, brewing was the responsibility of the women of the household. Interestingly, in the era before the Joseon period brewing was a communal event and performed by monks at temples during holiday seasons when alcohol was needed for ancestral rituals. As the country adopted Confucianism during the Joseon era these duties moved into the home and became the responsibility of the women of the household. This led to more individualization and the culture of homebrewing blossomed, leading to a wide variety of rice preparation methods and recipes. Many such recipes are lost to time, however there are some books like the Gyuhap Chongseo that have survived to this day.

In this rice you’ll add cinnamon, pepper, ginger, jujube, and pine nuts during the godubap stage and then let it ferment for about a month to develop some really wonderful flavors. This recipe is perfect for the holidays! It is rich with all the cinnamon and spices of the holidays. It’s sweet and warm with alcohol and sure to put you in a jolly mood.



  • Chapssal 2kg

  • Soguk (nuruk 200g, water 1L)

  • Distilled alcohol (35% alcohol)

  • Pine nuts 10g

  • Ginger 15g

  • Whole black pepper 5g

  • Whole cinnamon 15g

  • Jujube 50g

Prepare Soguk

  1. Add 200g of nuruk to 1L of water.

  2. Cover and let soak for at least 7 hours.

  3. Before using filter out nuruk making sure to get all the water out.

Prepare the Godubap

  1. Wash 2 kg of chapssal and let soak for 3 hours.

  2. Strain the water out of the rice and let sit straining for at least 30 minutes.

  3. Steam the rice for 40 minutes once you see steam rising from the top of the steamer.

  4. Turn off the streamer and let it sit in the steamer for 10 minutes.

  5. Take rice out and cool to about 25 deg C quickly.

Prepare additives

  1. Peel and mash the ginger.

  2. Wash and remove seeds from jujube.

  3. Crush the pine nuts and black pepper.

  4. Break up cinnamon into smaller pieces about one inch(or about 2-3cm) in length.

  5. Add ginger, pine nuts, and black pepper into a mesh bag.

Prepare the brew

  1. Add the soguk and cooled godobap together. Mix well.

  2. Add to a clean and sterilized brew vessel.

  3. Add the ginger, pine nuts, and black pepper (in a mesh bag) on top along with the cinnamon and jujube (not in a mesh bag).

  4. Allow to ferment for 3 days

  5. Add 3L of soju (or other distilled alcohol)

  6. Let ferment for about a month.

  7. Filter and enjoy (BE CAREFUL! This brew should be about 25% alcohol so enjoy responsibly)

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