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[Temple to Table] Sweet delight in early spring: Sirutteok

Sirutteok with white radish and adzuki beans (Cultural Corps of Korean Buddhism)
Sirutteok with white radish and adzuki beans (Cultural Corps of Korean Buddhism)
Society attributes a variety of adjectives to temple food such as healthy, natural, cleaner, etc. Are such words accurate? Ven. Dorim disagreed: “Temple food is not that grand.” Monastics use the same ingredients that Koreans used to eat in leaner times and prepare them in ways to enhance the taste. Temple food is neither extravagant nor special.

The most important factor in temple food is the person who prepares it, according to Ven. Dorim. Traditionally, temples must make enough food using limited ingredients to feed a large number of monastics and make it as tasty as possible.

Temple cooks went to great pains to overcome such obstacles. How can one make tasty food under such limited conditions? Wouldn’t it be best to draw out the natural tastes to the fullest? To prepare food well ultimately requires wisdom. Ven. Dorim said if the person preparing the food is faithful to his/her duty, wisdom naturally arises.

Ven. Dorim underscored that the attitude of those consuming the food is as important as that of those preparing it. In other words, one should be mindful of the labor of the cook, contained in a meal, and have a sense of gratitude.

Sirutteok with white radish and adzuki beans

Ingredients

- 5 cups short grain rice flour

- 3 cups adzuki beans,

- 300 g white radish,

- a little sugar and salt

Instructions

1. Boil adzuki beans thoroughly, place them in a mortar and partially mash them.

2. Shred white radish.

3. Sift the rice flour through a sieve. Add sugar and salt and sift again.

4. In a siru, or steamer, put a layer of adzuki beans. Mix rice flour and shredded white radish, and then put this on top of the adzuki beans layer. Then put another layer of adzuki beans on top.

5. Steam 25 minutes, turn off the heat, and let sit about 5 minutes.

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 Kim Hae-yeon (hykim@heraldcorp.com)
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