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[Temple to Table] Flavor studies in harmony: Monastic potato pizza

Monastic potato pizza (Cultural Corps of Korean Buddhism)
Monastic potato pizza (Cultural Corps of Korean Buddhism)
There is one essential practice all aspiring monastics must perform -- to be a “haengja,” or postulant.

A haengja is someone who is undergoing a trial period before becoming a monastic.

The process of entering a temple as a haengja and becoming a monastic takes from six months to a year.

However, one cannot become a monastic just because one has completed this probationary period. One must also learn proper monastic etiquette and Buddhist ceremonies during this period, and must pass a final exam to prove that they have the aptitude to live as an honorable monastic.

Another task postulants must learn is to cook and set tables.

Temples regard the proper setting of a table to be important. Some elements to consider are which side dish goes on which plate and how many people will be eating, among others. Based on these considerations, one must prepare and serve the side dishes. Through this, one acquires a harmonious and considerate attitude.

A traditional table setting calls for harmony and balance. Not only the balance of nutrition and flavors, but also a balanced appearance using simple tableware, including the color and form of the food. Everything must harmonize with and complement each other. Speed is irrelevant, a vestige of the past.

We must not let speed dictate how we live. Rather we should find our own pace and find meaning in slowing life down.

The satisfaction in eating comes not only from eating slowly and savoring each morsel, or from a full belly -- it also comes from the visual harmony of the food and the way it is served, as well as from the sincerity and devotion reflected in the table setting.

Monastic potato pizza (Cultural Corps of Korean Buddhism)
Monastic potato pizza (Cultural Corps of Korean Buddhism)
I would like to introduce a dish that is simple, yet full of spring energy.

Potatoes taste best when harvested on the summer solstice in June. Monastics prepare their own style of pizza using potatoes.

As we are not very good at preparing wheat dough from scratch, we make potato pancakes and then add toppings. This pizza is one of the temple delicacies.


Ingredients

4 medium potatoes

1 each of red and green bell pepper

50 g cabbage

3 portobello mushrooms

200 g shredded mozzarella cheese

Tomato sauce

Vegetable oil

Salt


Directions

1. Thinly slice portobello mushrooms (save some for garnish)

2. For garnish, cut four slices of the green and red bell peppers in round circles 0.5 cm thick. Shred the rest of the peppers. Julienne the cabbage.

3. Stir-fry the prepared mushrooms, cabbage and peppers (except the garnish) with a little bit of salt and oil in a pan. Mix in the tomato sauce.

4. Peel the potatoes, grate them with a grater and strain to remove excess water. Add salt to the grated potatoes and form and fry pancakes the size of a large plate.

5. Put one cooked pancake in the pan and spread the mixture prepared in step 3 evenly on top of it.

6. Sprinkle mozzarella cheese over it and garnish with mushrooms and peppers. Then cover the lid and cook on low heat until the cheese melts. (In a microwave oven, it may take 7-8 minutes)

Article by Ven. Hongseung

Provided by Cultural Corps of Korean Buddhism

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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.

By Korea Herald (khnews@heraldcorp.com)
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