Anyone who has checked an email date stamp today, or written a letter, signed a cheque, saved an electronic document or spent too long looking at newspaper headers can’t have failed to think about the ‘once-in-a-century’ day we’ve been spending. It feels less like a day in November and more like a row of computer code.
And have you used this opportunity? Told someone you love them? If you’re in Korea, no doubt you will have done, as you give them a pepero stick, shaped – well, just like the number 1. Long, thin – sort of sticklike, I suppose you could call them – these biscuits are apparently exchanged like Valentine’s cards on the ‘legs-eleven’th day of the legs-eleven’th month’.
I found a recipe for these ‘honey sticks’ in the Honey I’m Homemade cookbook. It called for some exotic ingredients (the shops of Chipping Norton did not stock ginger juice, and at one point it looked like we’d be squeezing grated ginger through an old pair of tights to manage the authentic recipe) and nor were they cheap (perhaps sesame oil is less expensive in Korea than it is in the Cotswolds). It’s an intriguing way to cook – combining oil and juice and honey into flour to make a dough, deep-frying it and then soaking in honey syrup (the same approach to making carbohydrate gooey that we’ve seen in baklava and shandatlie among other honeyed desserts).
The results? Disappointing. I blame the recipe. Next time (well, I’ve got to use up the rice wine I bought somehow) I’ll roll the sticks instead of cutting them, and I’ll make them more like grissini less like shortbread fingers. I’ll add more flour too, to change the consistency, and I won’t bother with the pine nuts.
Next time? It’s a year away I guess, if not a whole century hence.
Pepero honey sticks
1 cup flour, sifted
3 tablespoons sesame seed oil
3 tablespoons rice wine
2 tablespoons ginger juice
2 tablespoons honey
For the syrup:
1 cup sugar
1 cup water
2 tablespoons honey
0.5 teaspoon cinnamon
1.5 teaspoons ground ginger
[2 tablespoons pine nuts, chopped]
4 cups vegetable oil for frying
Mix flour and sesame seed oil together thoroughly. In a separate bowl, combine liquid ingredients and add to the flour. Knead to dough-like consistency and roll into thin grissini-like sticks.
Make syrup by mixing sugar and water and boiling to reduce by one half. Cool slightly and add honey, cinnamon and ground ginger.
Heat oil and deep-fry dough until golden brown. Soak the sticks in the honey syrup
My book Travels in Blood and Honey; becoming a beekeeper in Kosovo is now available on Amazon