Sunday, February 18, 2007

Korean New Years (Happy 4340!!!)

February 18th, 2007, marks the arrival of the Year of the Golden Pig: 4340 in Korea. This year my wife HyeRyung took on the challenge of making dinner for the family, just a couple of weeks after we committed to giving up meat for good. Since we are quite new to eliminating all meat products from our diet, our daily menu has been undergoing something of a revolution (read The China Study, to find out what inspired us to give up meat). So we haven't had enough time to completely reinvent our daily meals, let alone one that was exclusively Korean and yet we still wanted to host the family for this most special holiday.

Nowadays the dishes most commonly associated with Korea probably include an assortment of BBQ meat dishes (Bulgogi, Kalbi, etc), BiBimBap (with Beef), and more recently Korean Fried Chicken. The most common main courses in a contemporary Korean New Year's dinner is also usually heavily meat orientated, from beef broths, stews, dumplings, etc, etc, etc...

However, prior to much more recent times, the vast majority of our diet consisted of rice (brown to boot) and veggies. In addition Korea's long Buddhist tradition also preached a vegan lifestyle. In homage to our roots, we decided it was time to test out if we could still do it old school. To quote our friends from a previous meal, "HyeRyung, put her foot in it!"

(see a fully labeled version of the above photo at at my flickr site)

In the end the final menu turned out to be:
  • Duk Mandoo Gook. Soup (from dashima, daikon, shiitake mushrooms, carrots and onions) with Homemade Dumplings (stuffed with tofu, shiitake mushrooms, potato noodles, carrots, onion, green onions and kimchee) and Duk (Thinly sliced Rice Cake).
  • Moo Cho Chol Kwa-il. Finely sliced fruit and vegetables (pear, apple, red/green pepper, and cucumber) wrapped in thin Daikon Slices marinated in vinegar, sugar and salt.
  • Tobu Chun: Tofu Patties (Tofu mixed with chopped carrots, green pepper, green onions, onions, bound with egg and coated in flour).
  • Busut Chap Chae: Sweet Potato Noodles with veggies, shiitake, oyster, and enoki mushrooms.
  • Dotori Mook Moo Chim: Acorn Jelly with Chrysanthemum, Sesame leaves, Nori, and soy sauce dressing.
  • Oven Roasted Mushrooms with Korean red pepper paste, rice syrup, and a touch of diluted soy sauce.
  • Steamed Acorn Squash with Cashew Nut Sauce.
There were a few items left out on this post, but these were the main stars of the feast, and what a feast it was.