Jinkwansa’s temple food brings to mind pristine dew on a lotus petal, and its purity is the result of the efforts of Ven. Gyeho.
Her words radiate warm-hearted energy.
“Look at these marvelous beans! They are black soybeans (seoritae) that grew on Ganghwa Island exposed to the sea winds. We soak them in water, remove the skin carefully, and grind them in a hand mill like this," she said.
While turning the handle of the mill, Gyeho’s face lit up with joy. Perhaps she was proud of these beans because of their origin, growing covered in frost as though they had passed some milestone in their Buddhist practice.
As the abbess of Jinkwansa and master temple food chef, Gyeho has turned the mill handle here for over 50 years. She never thought of the convenience of using an electric blender. In that way she embodied her principle that when cooking, do not take the easy way.
Asked to recommend the most desirable food for winter, she immediately responded, “ground black soybean stew.” Its central component is beans. In temple food, which is meant to be eaten by monastic practitioners, beans occupy center stage. Because temple food is vegan, dishes made with beans are a valuable source of vegetable protein.
Especially in winter when the body needs more energy, the plant protein in beans boosts one’s energy.
Dishes like ground bean stew, braised tofu, and tofu jangajji are often on the menu at Jinkwansa along with Korean soy sauce and bean paste made from meju (blocks of boiled beans) that are used as condiments and seasonings.
Seoritae biji jjigae (Ground black soybean stew)
- 1 cup soaked black soybeans (seoritae)
- 2-3 leaves of Napa cabbage, green and red chilies, seasoning
- 2 tsp bamboo salt
- 1/2 cup veggie stock
- 1/2 tablespoon sesame oil
1. Wash black soybeans and soak in water for 3-4 hours to remove the skin.
2. Grind the beans in a mill (or puree in a blender).
3. Blanch Napa cabbage leaves and cut the minto small pieces. Cut green and red chilies diagonally.
4. Oil a pot with sesame oil, stir-fry the cabbage leaves and add vegetable stock to boil.
5. When the stock boils, add ground beans. When it comes to a boil, add bamboo salt to taste.
6. The ground beans should not be stirred with a spatula. Control the heat to prevent burning.
Provided by Cultural Corps of Korean Buddhism
Temple food is the food of the ascetics who express gratitude for all forms of life and wish for peace for the whole world. The Cultural Corps of Korean Buddhism operates the Korean Temple Food Center where guests can learn and experience temple food. -- Ed.