When I was little, my grandmother took me to the temple every weekend. It was not fun (or exciting) to sit for the long chanting that lasted hours, but one of my joys was to watch the preparation of lunch and then have a meal with everyone. I still do remember the taste of rice and the fresh vegetable side dishes. It was really fresh. Korean Temple Food has been rooted at the Buddhist temples for about 1,700 years and is designed to support the meditation practice of monks and nuns. It is the simplest food and it is made from natural ingredients with minimum of preparation.
I attended a lecture about the Korean Temple Food with Venerable Dae Ahn at Korean Society in NYC a few weeks ago. It was very short in time, but a lot of great information about what ingredients we should use, how to cook, or what to eat…
Here, let me talk about rice. (I will save some other time about general Korean Temple food). The rice is the main dish in Korea like Japan or China. These days, many Korean people prefer to have brown rice or brown rice with mult-igrain as the healthy food. But I learned something very interesting from Venerable Dae Ahn. Actually, it does make sense. She said that it is not a good idea to have too much multi-grain because the body needs to work hard to digest. She also said the Korean temple food uses all seasons of vegetables are included with the rice meal. The temple food belief is that seasonal vegetables contain abundant natural nutrients and also matches the physical structure of human beings. We know that having rice and legume (bean) together complete the central amino acid cycle to create the protein; however according to her, beans or multi-grain has to be seasonal as well in temple food. She said that the temple kitchen cooks the rice with millet or green pea in spring, rice with barley in summer, fresh rice in fall and rice with multi-grain in winter (to help strengthen joints). Also, she recommended that when you have a rice meal, you should take the same amount of vegetables to better balance nutrients. So, what would you cook today?