Ven. Kyungwoon spends most of her time in Seosan interacting with Buddhists over temple food, but she heads to Seoul once a week to teach at Hyangjeok Segye, the official culinary institute for Korean temple food.
While teaching the recipes, she often cites the Buddha’s teachings from the sutras as well, to let her students know about the spirit embodied in temple food. To do that, she has to spend more time preparing for class. However, she does not mind. “The mindset one has before preparing food ingredients and eating is very important in temple food, and I cannot neglect that aspect,” she said.
“Looking at the food-related programs that pervade television today, I realize how obsessed our society is with taste. The more we regard food as something to satisfy our taste buds, the more we miss. I often say that food should be considered as medicine. Three times a day, at proper times, we should eat with the same solemnity as when we pray, while also expressing gratitude to the farmers and the natural world which provides the ingredients. I think it is also the role of Buddhist practitioners to awaken in others a sense of gratitude and reverence for food.”
Fried lotus roots and nuts in omija sauce
Firmly ripened lotus roots are replete with diverse nutrients, including vitamins, tannin, iron, and fiber. When nuts are added and omija sauce (schisandra berry syrup) is drizzled over it, the dish is perfect for a special day or important guests.
1 whole lotus root
1/4 each green, yellow and red bell pepper
3 shelled walnuts
20 grams pumpkin seeds
20 grams almonds
2 tablespoons glutinous rice powder
2 tablespoons starch
1 teaspoon each grapeseed oil and salt
1/2 cup omija syrup
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon starch
1 teaspoon vinegar
1 Trim lotus roots. Chop half of them finely, and grate the other half and force the grated parts through a sieve.
2 Cut green, yellow and red bell peppers into bite-size pieces.
3 Toast shelled walnuts lightly in an unoiled pan.
4 Put lotus roots from step 1 into a bowl. Add salt, starch and glutinous rice power. Mix well and add toasted walnuts.
5 Form the mixture prepared in step 4 into bite-sized pieces and fry twice in oil.
6 Make omija sauce and add bell peppers prepared in step 2. Drizzle over fried lotus roots and serve.
Provided by Cultural Corps of Korean Buddhism
Temple food is 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.