The Korea Herald


[Temple to Table] Pounded shiitake mushroom stew

By Kim Hae-yeon

Published : Oct. 15, 2022 - 16:01

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Pounded shiitake mushroom stew (Cultural Corps of Korean Buddhism) Pounded shiitake mushroom stew (Cultural Corps of Korean Buddhism)

Taking pleasure in cooking, Ven. Kyungwoon calls herself a “food practitioner.” This is because making food the proper Buddhist way with good ingredients and sharing it with many is to practice the Buddha’s teaching that “Food is good medicine.” Its purpose is also to spread the spirit embodied in temple food, based on the belief that “What we eat creates our body and mind.”

Eight years ago, Ven. Kyungwoon fell ill when she was about to finish her junior year at Unmunsa Monastic College. When a persistent cough lasted about a month, she visited a doctor thinking it was more than just a cold. He diagnosed her with cancer and told her the cancer cells had already spread to her thorax through the lymphatic system.

She was transferred to a university hospital in Seoul and underwent three major operations. Chemotherapy was part of her cancer treatment and lasted over a year.

She endured this difficult time, praying and studying. Then one day, as if by destiny, she met Ven. Seonjae, Korea’s first Temple Food Master, when she signed up for a three-day class on temple food cooking.

“On the first day of class, I had an epiphany. Her message that ‘food is life’ hit home and penetrated my heart. I realized then that what I eat creates my body and mind, and as a monastic practitioner, I cannot practice properly without a healthy body. During the class I diligently studied the spirit of temple food and learned to make food using seasonal ingredients. Afterward, I also strove to put into practice all I had learned. Thanks to this, I was eventually told my cancer was in remission and my health improved. Now I only get a regular checkup every six months.”

Pounded shiitake mushroom stew

As a traditional food passed on for generations at Seongnamsa Temple in Uljin, this dish is also well known for invigorating the energy of elderly monastics.

By pounding soaked shiitake mushrooms with a wooden rolling pin, and stir frying in perilla oil, the unique recipe fully enlivens the taste and nutrition of mushrooms, and heightens the flavor of the broth.


- 7 soaked shiitake mushrooms

- 1 king trumpet mushroom

- 50 grams oyster mushrooms

- 50 grams white radish

- 1/2 block tofu

- 50 grams Korean zucchini

- 30 grams carrot

- 2 leaves napa cabbage

- 1 sheet kelp

- 1 green & 1 red chile pepper

- 2 tablespoons perilla oil

- 2 tablespoons house soy sauce

- 3 cups veggie stock

- salt


1 Cut tofu into cubes, sprinkle a little salt, and stir fry in a pan until golden brown.

2 Squeeze excess water from soaked shiitake mushrooms and pound with a rolling pin. Diagonally cut green and red chile peppers.

3 Cut Korean zucchini, carrot, and white radish into bite size pieces. Cut Napa cabbage too.

4 Trim king trumpet mushrooms and oyster mushrooms.

5 Oil a pot with perilla oil, stir fry pounded shiitake mushrooms, and season with soy sauce.

6 Add trimmed mushrooms, veggies, fried tofu, kelp, and veggie stock, and bring to a boil.

7 When the stock comes to a boil, add green and red chile peppers, and season with salt. (It is also good to add spicy seasoning made from spicy chile pepper powder.)