The start of a new year always feels like a pause between everything that happened in the past to all that lays ahead in the future. There are regrets in what could have been but also hope for what can and will be. Usually I spend a lot of time suspended in this moment trying to neatly timeline my life in chronological order, but life is anything but neat and (chrono)logical. Everything is intertwined, looping together from ahead, below, up, and behind. So instead of trying to unravel what will forever be tangled, I am deciding to focus on today, whatever knots it may hold from the past, present, or future.
A few years ago, conveyer belt sushi became very popular in Korea. Instead of ordering, small tapas like plates of sushi are placed on a conveyer belt. Each person grabs what they want to eat. At the end of the meal, the plates are tallied and paid for. These restaurants are common in Seoul located everywhere from business districts to trendy shopping districts. My family and I had lunch at the one at Shinsegae Department Store. The sushi isn’t spectacular, but good enough and reasonably priced. We ate our hearts out and until our shirts were snug.
I’ve never been to a conveyer belt sushi restaurant outside of Korea. Does anyone have a favorite place or one they frequent?
I think we can all agree that the day after Thanksgiving is a day of rest, that is in terms of cooking. So, instead of a recipe I thought I’d post about an interesting restaurant I went to a few days ago. The restaurant, Gam Lo Dang, 감로당, specializes in sachal, 사찰, food, which is Buddhist temple food. Buddhist monks are vegetarians and use all natural and sometimes unusual ingredients. Seasoning is usually done minimally and the flavors are more subtle than strong. I enjoyed trying traditional Korean dishes from a Buddhist monk’s palette. It’s interesting to recognize the heart of a dish but taste it with different flavors.
Rice Porridge and Non-Spicy Kimchi naturally died a lotus pink.
Grilled mushrooms, lotus root, and hemp served on a plate of pine needles.
Fried tofu served with a non-spicy red sauce. Continue reading
One of my favorite beverages is the citron tea, or yujacha, 유자차. It’s different from regular teas because it is not brewed from dried leaves but from a marmalade like syrup. The citron is a very unique fruit because it is rarely, if ever, eaten peeled. The pulp is dry and little in proportion to the amount of pith and peel. However, it is a very fragrant and nutritional fruit. Many Koreans drink it during the winter months because it is an excellent source of Vitamin C and is also believed to be a natural source of antibiotics. When a cold is caught, instead of orange juice, Koreans give the advise to drink some citron tea.
The kimchi is done! It took two full days to complete, but if I were to do it myself, I think it would’ve taken weeks. Experiencing the whole process really made me appreciate kimchi in a whole new way. It’s such a standard presence on my dinner table, that I don’t think I’ve ever really given it a second thought. But that’s exactly why kimchi is so important, because I eat it everyday. To know where all the ingredients came from and how much preparation went into it makes you enjoy it more. I found it really impressive how authentic and culturally intact each part was. All the ingredients were local, seasonal, and all the methods used could have been seen 100, 300, 500 years ago. Well, maybe except the mandolin we used to cut the radishes. That probably cut three days worth of work to two.
In theory, this batch is supposed to last one year, so you can imagine how much of everything we needed (we’re talking restaurant kitchen proportions). No recipe was used and I lost count after 50 cabbage heads, that I’ll let the photos do the rest of the talking.