Korean Macrobiotic Guidelines and Cooking
Korean macrobiotic cooking is often also referred to as “natural cuisine/cooking” (jayun-shik) or sometimes “well-being cuisine” in Korean society. The recommendations that these natural, macrobiotic chefs or food researchers have are very similar to those of the East-Asian macrobiotic guidelines that we are familiar with. In general, Korean macrobiotic guidelines are based on the four old East-Asian sayings that Koreans hear very often anywhere that has something to do with food and well being.
1. A full, whole thing is a masterpiece. – Eat the full, whole foods including leaves, roots, stems etc.
2. The human body and the earth, ground are not separate. – Local foods fit the body best. Eat local food from the season.
3. The human life should be following primitive nature. – Eat non-processed food the way it comes from nature.
4. The harmony of Yin and Yang. – Eat a good balance of Yin and Yang foods.
Basically, Korean macrobiotic diet followers eat whole grains, avoid artificial seasoning or processed sugar, use naturally dried/prepared seasoning, eat local & whole food, and avoid meat, dairy and eggs.
Another thing about Korean macrobiotic cooking is that it really focuses on simplifying the cooking process to appreciate the natural flavor and nutrients of the whole foods. Traditional foods like namul banchans is where you can see how Korean macrobiotic cooking really comes to life. You can say that these namul banchans are basically the most fundamental basis of food dishes in Korean cuisine. There are a ton of traditional Korean soups and stews that are cooked appropriately for the season as well (such as napa cabbage soup and radish soup during the winter, and miyuk/wakame soup and cucumber soup during the summer). These foods are just the natural way of traditional cooking.
As we have blogged about before, Korean temple food really stays true to the macrobiotic guidelines despite the overwhelmingly western, fast food influences that are taking over Korea. Younger Koreans are in love with high calorie meat and dairy products and fast food chains like KFC, McDonalds, Domino’s and Pizza Hut. You would not believe how many of these stores have taken over the streets of Seoul and how busy they are! Consequently, child obesity in Korea is rapidly rising, and there is a counter movement that is advocating for going back to “Grandma’s old table”, where traditional veggie soups, stews and namul banchans make up the table.
It’s Korean temple food that really still sticks to the practice of traditional Korean macrobiotic cooking. They insist on growing their own food on their land and make sure to dry or pickle the food while they are at their best nutritional condition during the warmer months for use during the winter months.
Related to Korean temple food’s core philosophy on cleansing the mind and body, Korean macrobiotic, natural cuisine chef Lim Ji Ho talks about how food is fundamentally about “being one with nature” and also “healing” the body. Instead of using specific recipes, he emphasizes the importance of improvising with food, taking into account the features and flavors of the ingredients on hand, and cooking at any time and in any place – unlike people who think that they cannot cook without the proper ingredients and cookware. Another thing that I really appreciate is that he focuses on is the importance of having a thankful mind for the trees and plants and whatever it is that you are using to eat – saying “thanks to the tree” and “I will take and eat just a little”. Which is so important in our day and age of overeating and being greedy about food (which I am guilty of) and not eating slowly while giving thanks. His documentary specials on Korean TV, “The Wandering Chef, Lim Ji Ho” really touched many Koreans, including myself.
Anyway, I learn more about Korean macrobiotics and the natural way of living and eating and cooking everyday. I will be sharing more as my journey continues. What are some macrobiotic guidelines and recommendations that inspire you, help you become more centered, and appreciate your life and mother nature?
Note: You can get some more information on macrobiotic living at Alice’s blog – which we are huge fans of!