Seollal – Korean Lunar New Year – is a holiday ripe with promise, symbolism and delicious culinary tradition. As Springtime peeks round the corner, Jonna will share her gleaned knowledge of Korean Buddhist temple cuisine in this ambitious and varied feast.
First course: Temple Food Banchan Starter
The sort of stuff you’ll only find halfway up a mountain. Kick off your shoes, sit on a pillow and enjoy dozens of tiny, meticulously arranged dishes. Banchan is a sort of Korean tapas that includes acorn jelly, peppery bitter greens, rich soybean stew, fortifying pumpkin porridge, syrupy sweet potatoes, and a handful of different spicy kimchis. Nibble and sample while you sip on steamy roasted barley tea.
Second course: Seollal – Happy Year of the Snake!
The first meal of the New Year for many Koreans is Ddeok Guk soup – a creamy, peppery broth, garnished with chewy coins of ricecake, pan-fried julienned egg whites and yolks, brisket (for our temple food purposes, swapped out with plump rich seitan slices) and crispy seaweed. This colourful soup is said to furnish you with enough good fortune to last til next Seollal. We’ll also enjoy two types of savoury pan-fried mandu dumplings and strips of pajeon – spring onion rice cakes with sesame sauce.
Third course: Tea Service
Korean teas are many and varied. We’ll cap off our night with hot cinnamon tea, icy shikkhye, sweet ginger yuzu tea, honey pastries and chewy pancakes filled with pockets of warm, drippy spiced brown sugar called hoddeok. This street-food favourite will warm your hands on the journey home.
Jonna Pedersen spent 3 years in Korea teaching art and studying cooking. When she wasn’t learning at the apron-strings of her stoic ajumma (auntie) neighbours, she was hiking up mountains to sample traditional Buddhist monastery cuisine.