An actual post on Vegan8Korean! It’s horrible how long we go between posts nowadays. I’m going to blame our son, because he is too young to defend himself! ;) So it is fitting to post a long overdue post about a Korean tradition, the “choosing ceremony” or 돌잡이.
Long, long ago, before his first birthday, I shared a post about his 100th day celebration. That was a fun celebration with lots of food and friends, but we really went all out for this first birthday. We cooked some of our own food, but also ordered some vegan japchae and a few other dishes from one of our local Korean restaurants as we had so many guests in attendance. We even baked a three-tier birthday cake since we don’t have any vegan bakers nearby, and topped it with a teddy bear shaped cake that Tevyn got to eat by himself!
Tevyn wore the hanbok his 할머니 sent over from Korea because we definitely had to have him in traditional clothes for his choosing ceremony. The choosing ceremony is done on the first birthday. You set out a variety of items around the child that symbolize different prophecies for the child’s life. Whatever item the child chooses, foretells what his life will be like.
For example, paper money is one item that is set out and symbolizes that the child will be wealthy if it is chosen (a popular choice for Korean mom’s to root for!). Rice also represents wealth. Rice cakes represent good health and luck. Toy swords or bow and arrows represent a successful career in the military. Books, scrolls, and calligraphy brushes or pen and paper represent the child being a scholar. Long noodles and yarn or string represent a long life. Grains of rice represent Finally, there is what Tevyn chose:
After considering the bow and arrow, he grabbed tightly onto the dried Korean dates (he eats very well). The dates represent that he was have plentiful and strong offspring. Our neighbor, who has a daughter a little older than Tevyn took this as meaning we have a little Casanova on our hands and promptly declared that he was going to keep an eye on the two of them from now on. In reality, it is less about his powers of romance and more a forecast that our little dragon will be bringing some more vegans into the world down the road!
From the temple food tradition, this recipe is full of healthy appreciation for the basic ingredients and only requires 3 ingredients. It’s so quick, easy, and delicious – especially if you make sure to find a good doenjang (soybean paste). It’s great for a busy evening as it’s so easy and quick. Here you go – hope you enjoy it as much as Bill and I do!
Steamed Napa Cabbage with Soybean Paste – 된장 배추 찜 (Serves 4-6 people)
Water, 1 and half cup
Kelp, 2 pieces
1 whole Napa Cabbage, medium size
Soybean paste, 3-4 tablespoons of soybean paste
Perrilla Oil, 1 tablespoon
1. Put one and half cups of water and 2 pieces of kelp into a pot and start boiling.
2. Add in the napa cabbage leaves into the pot (separated into each leaf).
3. Let the steam rise and cook the leaves so they are soft. Don’t let them get too soft or they will be mushy.
4. Add the perilla oil and 3 to 4 tablespoons of doenjang (soybean paste) to the pot (depending on how salty the doenjang is, you can add more or less. Make sure you don’t have too little – it has to be fairly strong!) and mix into the leaves and water well.
5. Place in a serving bowl and serve with rice – enjoy!!
Steam the cabbage.
Another inspiration from Yat’s, as described in the previous post, is a spinach and mushroom étouffée. This is a peppery and creamy dish, not as sweet as the B&B, but also one of our favorite (non-Korean) dishes for a party as it will feed quite a lot.
This recipe takes some planning in advance if you don’t have easy access to vegan cream of mushroom and celery soup at your local store, as you have to make your own – which means soaking cashews if you don’t have a high powered blender, like a Vitamix. If you do have access to the soups, it’s a breeze, but I personally prefer it made with my own versions of the soup, and then you can have leftovers of the soups to eat later too!
Vegan Spinach and Mushroom Étouffée recipe
1 Tbs of vegan butter
2 teaspoon chopped garlic
1 1/2 cup diced onion
1 green bell pepper, diced
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
1 teaspoon vegetarian Worcestershire sauce or soy sauce
32 ounces (4 cups) of vegan cream of mushroom soup (see below)
3/4 cup vegan cream of celery soup (see below)
*1 ½ cups water (more or less as needed for consistency)
1 lb package of frozen spinach or 4 bunches of fresh spinach
1 lb package of fresh, pre-sliced mushrooms (I used portabella)
2 Tbsp. chopped fresh parsley for garnish (optional)
5 cups uncooked rice, cooked, to serve over
Saute garlic, onion, and green pepper in butter until soft. Stir in spices, soups, water, spinach, and mushrooms. Bring to simmer and cook on low (I used slow cooker for several hours). Pour étouffée over rice and garnish to serve. Amount of spices can be adjusted for heat, as can amount of water for consistency – just remember it’s easier to add water to thin then to try and thicken after you’ve already added the water.
Now, this is a simple recipe and very easy to put together if you have vegan cream of celery and mushroom soups available in your local stores. Imagine makes vegan versions of both cream of celery and cream of mushroom. But I’ve included my own at the bottom of the recipe – just remember to soak your cashews the night before, or make your soups in advance.
Vegan cream of mushroom soup recipe (4 cups)
½ yellow or white onion, diced
1 cup cashew cream
1 cup unsweetened almond milk
2 cloves garlic, crushed or diced
1 cup of mushrooms, diced
2 Tbs vegan margarine
3 Tbs flour
1 tsp thyme
salt and pepper to taste
Make the cashew cream first (see below). If you want it very rich, you can make more cashew cream instead of the almond milk, or just use almond milk if you don’t mind it being less rich and just want to use store bought milk for convenience. Cook the onions, mushrooms, and garlic in butter over medium heat until soft. Add the thyme and flour and stir to make a roux. Stir in the milks and continue to stir and cook until thickened. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Vegan cream of celery soup recipe (1-2 cups)
½ yellow or white onion, diced
1 cup almond milk
1/2 cup cashew cream (see below)
1 cup celery, diced
1 Tbs vegan margarine
2 Tbs flour
1 tsp thyme
salt and pepper to taste
This is very similar to the cream of mushroom soup recipe. Cook the onion and celery in butter until soft. Add flour and thyme and stir into a roux. Add milks and stir until thickened. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Directions for Cashew Cream (1 & 1/2 cups)
Take 1 cup of whole, raw cashews and soak for 5- 8 hours (or if you have a Vitamix or similarly high powered blender, you can get by pouring boiling water over them to cover and then soaking for 15 minutes or skipping the soak altogether).
Put the cashews in your blender and top with 1 inch of water. Blend on high for several minutes until smooth (may want to blend for at least 5 minutes if you don’t have a high powered blender).
Remember, if you’re making the soups, it doesn’t hurt to just make more cream so you can double the soup recipes to save for later since you’re already doing the work. Of course, this makes a lot of étouffée so you may have leftovers of it anyway. Enjoy and Laissez les bons temps rouler!
I have an affinity for Cajun food – maybe because I’m a fan of spicy food. I’ve made several trips to New Orleans, a very good friend of mine from high school lives there, and Sunnie and I had some great vegan gumbo on our last trip. So I thought I’d share a couple of recipes that I often break out for parties in honor of this year’s Mardis Gras.
While Indiana is limited in its vegan options, for a number of years, one of the most available sources of vegetarian and vegan restaurants was a Cajun place called Yat’s. Fortunately or unfortunately, they’ve since been far surpassed in their veg-fare by other restaurants. You have to call ahead to see if there is anything vegan available on their daily menu now-a-days, so we often head elsewhere, but for a number of years, they were the spot to hit in downtown Indianapolis. This recipe is a vegan version of one of my favorite dishes from my vegetarian days. I was sad to learn they put milk in their version when I turned vegan, so I had to come up with my own vegan version.
Cajun B&B recipe
12 ears fresh sweet corn or 1 large 2 pound bag of frozen sweet corn kernels
8 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 1/2 cups onions, finely chopped
1 large green bell pepper, finely chopped
1 large red bell pepper, finely chopped
1 large, 32 ounce cans of black beans, washed, or 2 ½ cups dried and prepared
2 ripe tomatoes, peeled, seeded and roughly chopped
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 teaspoons fresh ground black pepper
1 cup evaporated milk (2 cups plant milk cooked down with ¾ cups sugar – I used almond)
5 cups of uncooked rice, cooked, to serve over
1/4 cup diced green onions to garnish (optional)
· Prepare the corn by cutting off kernels into bowl, saving “milk” if not using frozen
· Melt the butter in a large saucepan or pot over medium-high heat.
· Add the onions, bell peppers, and tomatoes and saute until the onions are transparent, about 10 minutes.
· Stir in the salt and peppers, then add the corn, the black beans, the sugar and evaporated milk and stir well.
· Reduce heat to medium and cook until the corn is tender, about 10-15 more minutes.
· Adjust seasonings to taste. Serve over rice.
Greetings! Sunnie and I have been very bad bloggers lately…. I thought I would break the drought with a long, long overdue post, and a first of its kind on Vegan8Korean – a product review!
One of the biggest challenges of being vegan and eating Korean is the kimchi. You’ve got to have kimchi, but so often, the available kimchis in stores are not vegan – they have shrimp or other sea animals in them. This isn’t always the case, and you can find vegan kimchi, but things get even more complicated if you’re trying to find kimchi that doesn’t have msg in it either (seriously, why do we need that crap in our healthy, pro-biotic kimchi?!).
We were contacted by the good people at Granny Choe’s to see if we’d be interested in trying out their kimchi. They are available in some stores, but not around here, and so they mailed us over three sample jars in a cold pack. You can buy their kimchi directly from them online, so this was a good opportunity for us to check out how their shipping process works too as they aren’t yet available in stores in our area.
As you can see in the picture above, their kimchi is actually labeled vegan! Right there on the label! You don’t have to look at the ingredients to figure it out yourself – what a brilliant concept! Right away we can tell these guys are onto something here. They also don’t have msg or artificial preservatives in any of their kimchis. You’re getting legit, healthy kimchi from them.
The three samples they sent us arrived in a cold pack, and we received a jar of the traditional cabbage kimchi, a white kimchi (this is the traditional, non-spicy kimchi that was in Korea before the chili pepper was introduced and transformed Korean cuisine), and one of my very favorite kimchis, ggakdugi, radish cube kimchi.
The first kimchi we sampled was the traditional, cabbage kimchi. Sunnie’s mom and dad were visiting us (well, visiting their grandson – but we were here too), and so we had some hardcore kimchi experts lending their opinions to our review.
Our conclusion – yummy! This was a good, solid kimchi. It is definitely a more traditional kimchi, meaning that some kimchis you find in restaurants are quite young and not aged, which makes them less sour, but your traditional kimchi will have a bit of that sour flavor and bite to it – and that’s a good thing. We had that here and really liked it.
The second kimchi we tried was the white kimchi. Now this is a very mild, non-spicy kimchi. Sunnie loves this kind of kimchi, but I’ve never been a big fan of it. I like it better if it is sauteed, which gives it an almost buttery sort of flavor, but otherwise, it’s a bit mild for me. I go more for big flavors.
However, Sunnie, being a fan of these kind of kimchis, liked this one best of our three samples. Her mom also was a fan of it. The two of them went through this jar pretty quickly, and it was gone first.
The final kimchi we reviewed is one of my favorite kimchis, ggakdugi – radish kimchi. This is one that I seldom get because it’s hard to find a vegan version available locally, and we don’t make it as often as we make our regular, cabbage kimchi.
Unfortunately, this one, while very pretty, was our least favorite amongst the three. The main issue was the texture was a little too soft. We want some bite and crispness to it. We were all unanimous in this. I don’t know if the softness was from being too warm in shipping, aging (kimchi is probiotic – so the bacteria continues to culture and the kimchi changes as it ages), or just preparation, but we definitely wanted more crispness (that being said, I still ate the whole jar).
So, many thanks to Granny Choe’s for letting us review their kimchi (and apologies for taking so long to get the post up). It’s great to have a company making healthy, vegan kimchi available. Check out their website to see if their products are available near you or to place an order directly from them!
Namul is the Korean macrobiotic way of using minimal spices and sauces to create yummy dishes with vegetables and weeds that grow in the fields. Namul dishes use very gentle seasoning, trying to appreciate the main ingredient’s natural flavor. Koreans make namul with literally everything, including spinach, radish, cucumber, bean sprouts, fern-bracken, perilla leaves… etc. You can read more about namul at my Chwi namul recipe post!
This is another one of the namul series – I’ve posted nine namul recipes so far, and this is the tenth namul post. Really, namul is probably the most “traditional Korean” dish that you can make! Korean cuisine make namul with literally everything. It’s summer and it’s easy to get good cucumber – so it’s time for some cucumber namul! Cucumber namul is always served at mountain restaurants that are close by to temples, as it is a very common temple side dish.
It’s soooo easy and yummy – satisfying with rice and other Korean food. And again, it’s always good in bibimbap as well!
Oi Namul (오이나물) Recipe!
2-3 cucumbers, cut into matchsticks
2 tsp canola oil
2 tsp sesame oil
2 tsp perilla oil (or more to taste)
salt to taste
generous amount of sesame seeds
1. Wash and match stick the cucumbers.
2. Mix the three oils and add to medium high heat pan.
3. Stir fry until the cucumber gets fairly translucent. Don’t fry it too long as it will get mushy!
4. Season with salt and add more perrilla oil to taste.
5. Sprinkle a generous amount of sesames seeds , mix it well and enjoy!
Match stick the cucumber!
Mix the three oils. I like to have a generous amount of perilla oil.
Stir fry it in medium high heat!
Be generous with sesame seeds – a good source of calcium too! ;)
Enjoy by mixing in the sesame seeds in well! So yummy and satisfying. And most of all, so easy and quick!!
I’m a BIG fan of doenjang jjigae (된장 찌개). I could eat it almost every meal. At the multi-course full meals served by han-jung-shik restaurants, doenjang jjigae is often treated almost like an afterthought, but it’s always been a star attraction dish for me. My mother-in-law makes a really yummy doenjang jjigae. The problem with her cooking is that she so strongly uses son-maht (hand-taste) that she always says she doesn’t have a recipe. So the last time we were in Korea (wow, it’s been almost exactly two years now, due to the preparation and arrival of the baby), I made sure to watch how she made her doenjang jjigae so that I could do my best to replicate it. Sunnie also make me doenjang jjigae all the time, so she also had a secret ingredient to add an additional depth to the stew – pickled peppers!
So this recipe is my take on a recipe after watching Sunnie and her mom make me doenjang jjigae. However, there is definitely a son-maht approach to this dish as the strength of the jjigae depends on how much doenjang you put in it at the end. I tend to like really strong flavors, so I use a lot. Sunnie usually prefers more simple flavors, so she might use less. It’s entirely up to you, but there are a couple of tricks I figured out to make this simple dish fantastic!
Vegan Doenjang Jigae Recipe
(serves 2 as a main dish, or 4 as part of a multi-course meal)
1/2 an onion, chopped
1 medium potato, chopped
1 medium korean squash (hobak) or zucchini, chopped
1 bunch of enoki mushrooms, with root end chopped off
1/2 block of medium firmness tofu, cut into 1 inch cubes
1 pickled pepper
water or kombu broth to cover
doenjang to taste (approximately 2-5 Tbs, depending on desired strength of flavor)
- Put chopped potato and onion in a pan, cover with water or kombu broth, and bring to a boil. We usually just use water, but if you want a bit more flavor, you can first boil a piece of kombu sea-weed, something we do with many of our jjigaes to create a broth. Alternatively, if you are short on time you can just add the piece of kombu and bring to a boil with the other ingredients.
- Once the potatoes and onions are nearly cooked, add the hobak (or zucchini if you don’t have access to Korean squash) and the pickled pepper. This is Sunnie’s secret ingredient; it is optional if you can’t find it but definitely adds more depth to the flavor. If you can’t find it, you can use a regular green Korean pepper or a jalapeno if you have nothing else. Continue to boil until all ingredients are cooked. Here is omanim’s secret: you want to boil the potatoes and onions quite well until the potatoes are soft enough to almost be breaking apart. This adds potato starch and thickens the stew.
- Turn down the heat and add the desired amount of doenjang. Mix in the doenjang well. Doenjang is very good for you and super high in probiotics, so you don’t want to boil it too long in high heat, as it will kill the beneficial bacteria.
- Add the mushrooms, tofu and bring it briefly to a boil.
- It’s ready to serve with rice and other banchan!
This is the doenjang we use. There are multiple good brands, but you really have to just kind of taste to see what you like. Even the same brand’s doenjang can taste significantly different as it continues to ferment, so it can taste different depending on when you buy it.
Remember to cook the potatoes and onions first so that they are well done. If you add the other ingredients too soon, they will get overcooked. Cooking down the potatoes and onions will produce a strong flavor and enough starch to thicken the stew.
Remember not to boil the doenjang at too high of a heat too long in order to preserve the vitality of the priobiotic bacteria. Add it and taste to get the desired strength of flavor – a lot of doenjang to make it very strong if you’re like me or less to have it more mild if you prefer more simple flavors like Sunnie. Enjoy!