Cooking With KCC: Korean Temple Food

One of my favourite cuisines is Korean cuisine. I might be a bit biased, being of Korean origin, but Korean food is simply one of the best cuisines out there. There are many different components incorporated into one dish, and you can see and taste all the love and effort that went into creating a single dish. Although I have tried making some Korean dishes, I really wanted to broaden my experience with Korean cooking. Luckily, the Korean Cultural Centre in Canada, or the KCC, was offering free classes on how to make Korean food.

As of right now, the KCC is offering free biweekly classes on Korean cooking. They have different themes per class, so you can make a variety of different dishes. The date I signed up for was Korean temple food-themed. Korean temple food is the food Korean monks, who live together in temples, eat. It is all vegan and artfully crafted in small amounts. The dishes on the menu for the cooking class were steamed tofu-stuffed zucchini, lotus root pancakes, and sweet and salty mushrooms.

Steamed tofu-stuffed zucchini

The class started by making the steamed tofu-stuffed zucchini. This recipe consists of zucchini stuffed with a lightly seasoned mixture of tofu, mushrooms, and potatoes. The tofu is crumbled, potatoes are grated, and the mushrooms are stir-fried in a mixture of sesame oil and soy sauce. Then, the entire mixture is stuffed into the zucchini, and steamed for 5-10 minutes. Let me tell you, the aroma while making this was unbelievable. The sesame oil and soy sauce mixture smelled heavenly, and it absorbed right into the tofu mixture. This dish was also quite simple to make, despite its delicate appearance.

Lotus root pancakes

While the zucchini steamed, we moved on to making the lotus root pancake. This was done by grating some lotus root, which is commonly eaten in Korea, and mixing it with flour and a pinch of salt. Then, some sesame oil was heated on a pan, and small scoops of the pancake batter were dolloped onto the sizzling oil. Of course, small vegetable garnishes were also added to the pancakes to create an appealing visual. The result was pancakes that were crispy on the outside, but soft and chewy on the inside.

Sweet and salty mushrooms

The last dish, the sweet and salty mushrooms, was my personal favourite. It took a bit more time than the other dishes, but it was so simple to make. Mushrooms were sliced and then added to a pan of boiling water. Then, they were seasoned with soy sauce and sesame oil (can you tell Koreans love soy sauce and sesame oil?). The part that took a bit of time was waiting for the sauce to simmer down. After it had been reduced down a bit, some fresh jujube was added, followed by jo-chung, a sweet Korean rice syrup. I also put some walnuts in mine, which added an incredible flavour to the dish.

Overall, I had an amazing time during the class, and I will definitely be making these dishes again in the future. The class also had a very easy follow-along set-up, which allowed me to cook as I listened to instructions and watched the chef’s demonstrations. If you want to try dipping your toes into the world of Korean food but don’t know where to start, I highly recommend signing up for one of the classes hosted by the KCC. You can find their list of programs here. I hope you try out some Korean food because it is absolutely amazing! And if you have already ventured into the world of Korean cuisine, let me know what some of your favourite dishes are!

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