Korean Temple Food
This week we are at the Korean Temple Food Center in downtown Seoul, trying our hand at creating traditional Korean Temple Food. Welcome to week 313 (26/01/2017) of Travel Photo Thursday. I killed my computer this week, and I am probably writing this post on its dying legs and totally my fault. I’m sourcing out a new computer from a trusted source, so I am thankful “she” hasn’t died on me completely while I get things sorted out. Enough of my tale of woe, let’s head into the kitchen for some authentic Korean temple food.
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First, our smiling chef/nun got down to the nitty-gritty of showing us how to cook the Lotus Flower Dumpling Rice Cake Soup. To her right is our lovely interpreter who did a fantastic job translating and explaining each detail in English. Lunar new year is happening in Korea this weekend, so it was an opportune time to be making this dumpling soup. The custom is to eat this soup on new years day, and you become one year older. I’m not sure that I want to become older before my actual birthday unless I get double the presents!
Korean Temple Food
This pot contains the stock for our dumpling soup. Floating on top are dried shitake mushrooms, along with Korean radish, and kelp. The combination makes for an appetizing healthy natural broth.
I took a video of the lesson, but haven’t had a chance to edit it yet. I’m not sure the computer is up for that job. The prep is very easy, and I’ll explain as I go along here. We each had our station in the kitchen and made our individual bowl of soup. At the top of the photo, you can see two packages of wrapper dough. The white one is made from regular flour, and the green one is made with ground dried lotus leaf. This dough was made in advance by the kitchen staff. I would recommend purchasing the wrappers from an Asian grocery store. Next, we have our shiitake mushrooms, which we finely chopped and fried lightly in sesame oil (about 5 minutes). Likewise, we chopped the fermented kimchi into small pieces. Fermented kimchi is kimchi that is over a year old. It’s not as spicy as younger kimchi; a very mellow, pleasant flavour. You should be able to purchase this in an Asian grocery store, too. Then, we have the rice cake. Once the mushrooms are cooked, add them to the kimchi and mix.
After prepping our ingredients, we rolled out our dough for the wrappers (called mandu-pi). We used a mandu cutter which you can purchase at a dollar store, but a glass will also do the trick. Be sure to make the wrappers thin. The lotus flour dough takes a bit more work.
Fill each wrapper with a small amount of the mushroom and kimchi mixture. My dumplings remind me of Mexican hats. Don’t laugh. They were made with love and tasted healthy and fresh.
Once our dumplings were made, we boiled our soup broth, and then added the rice cakes, and waited until they floated to the top. Then it was time to add the dumplings. Like the rice cakes, once they floated to the top our soup was ready to eat. We sprinkled with sesame seed and gimgaru (dried seaweed powder) for added flavour.
Our lotus flower dumpling-rice cake soup was delicious and the perfect meal on a cold winter day. I preferred the white dumplings to the green lotus dumplings. I found the green ones to be a bit gummy.
To make 4 servings you will need: 1/4 head of old kimchi, 5 fresh shiitake mushrooms, 3T lotus flower powder, 3 cups flour, 1/2 cup water, 1/2t salt, 1 cup rice cake, wild sesame oil, sesame oil, sesame seed, black pepper, salt, gimgaru (dried seaweed powder). For the vegetable stock: 2L water, dried shiitake mushrooms, 200g Korean radish, and two ea. sea tangle. The only way I can describe sea tangle is that it looks a bit like fresh seaweed/kelp. You could probably get it at an Asian food market. Another option for the broth would be to use a basic vegetable broth purchased premade.
If you’re in Seoul on a Saturday morning, you can learn to cook Korean temple food with Nun, Heongmin. The class runs from 10 am to noon, and the cost is 10,000W (approximately 10 US dollars). Reserve your spot via email at least two days in advance, [email protected]
The centre is open daily (closed Monday) from 9 am to 6 pm. The easiest way to get to the centre is via subway. Take subway line 3 to Anguk Station, and it is a one minute walk from Exit 1. If you can’t get the English website to load, call 02-732-9928 to confirm times and price.
Have you eaten or made Korean temple food? Let us know in the comments.
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