Stories of temple food ingredients told by monastics embody the culture of temples.
Their communal lifestyle necessitates handling food in bulk like restaurants, but, unlike restaurants, temples depend a lot on preserving food. In spring and fall they prepare ingredients in bulk and store them to use when needed.
In spring, a temple may order 300 kilograms of shiitake mushrooms, dry and store them, and use them for up to a year. Spring is the best time to prepare dried shiitake mushrooms because after the harsh winter, the mushrooms have a superb appearance, taste and fragrance.
“At temples, monastics do all aspects of food preparation. In the past we stripped off chili pepper leaves and prepared them. Chili peppers were also sorted according to type. A long time ago, my teacher said that a monk appeared, and seeing him, the mountains, rivers and all plant life were gripped by fear. That’s because frugal monastics use everything and leave nothing,” said the Ven. Dongwon.
The subject of frugality in cooking temple food continues.
Making kimchi, most people throw away the cabbage roots, but Dongwon advises against it because the roots are even higher in nutrition. She recommends cutting the roots into thin slices before serving, making them easier to chew.
Black trumpet mushroom soup
- 100 grams dried black trumpet mushrooms
- 100 grams white radish
- 50 grams soy bean sprouts
- 10 grams kelp
- 3 dried red chili peppers
- 2 tablespoons house soy sauce
- a little sea salt and minced ginger
- 8 cups water
1. Cut the radish a little thick, trim and wash soy bean sprouts, and wash dried black trumpet mushrooms, kelp and dried chilies under running water.
2. Pour water in a pot and add radishes, kelp and dried chilies. Add house soy sauce and bring to a boil.
3. Add soy bean sprouts to the soup and boil once more. Add mushrooms and sea salt to taste, boil once more 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 all around the world. The Cultural Corps of Korean Buddhism operates the Korean Temple Food Center where guests can learn and experience temple food. -- Ed.