Must Eat in Korea: Herb Sausages (Sundae)

Back in August I visited 2016 Jecheon International Music & Film Festival. I got to taste a variation of Korean sausage that I had never seen anywhere else before. Because Jecheon is a city famous for its abundant medicinal herbs, a restaurant was clever enough to utilize local products to create a unique kind of sundae (순대).

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Following is a translation of article from VisitKorea
Gaemi Restaurant (개미식당) is located in Namcheon-dong, Jecheon-si in North Chungcheong Province and their speciality is traditional Korean sausage, aka sundae. The couple who own the place decided to change their main menu from wheat rice to sundae twenty years ago. Ever since then, they studied and developed to come up with the unique recipe of herb sundae which had granted them a patent. Jecheon’s herb sundae keeps the traditional method of sausage-making but uses local herbs that the city is famous for. The combination of Korean sausage and oriental herbs involves extracts of around 25 medicinal plants including milkvetch, cnidium, atractylis, and angelica.  Every three days, the herbs are boiled down to extract for over 12 hours in which the result will be added as a base ingredient for sausage filling. There are about 45 other ingredients added to the filling including cabbage, radish, dried radish leaves, chives, carrot, sweet rice, pig’s blood, glass noodle, millet, tofu, bean sprouts, etc.

 

Celebrating Buddha’s Birthday at Musangsa International Zen Center

May 25, 2015 was Buddha’s Birthday and also a national holiday in Korea.  May is a month that is full of holidays – Labor Day, Children’s Day, Buddha’s Birthday.. and not to mention other special days like Parents’ Day, Teachers’ Day and Coming-of-Age Day when the schools and offices may remain open but excitement surely is in the air.  Looking back at how it was in Canada where we did not have as many national holidays I am definitely not complaining.  Just simply amazed at how all these special days were made that ended up followed by entire nation.

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Visiting a Family Sanso: Paying Respect to Your Ancestors

On a Sunday, I decided to convince my parents to finish a homework that has been long overdue – to visit our grandparents’ grave.  My father’s parents are buried in a family sanso (산소: graveyard) in Pocheon, Gyeonggi-do Province.  The place is even further north of Seoul and is quite close to 38th parallel that divides the Korean peninsula in half.  It is about a three-hour drive from our home in Daejeon and that made it difficult for my busy parents to make time to visit.  But now since they got their own driver (who is not yet used to drive in Korea but considers herself a good driver) they gave in and decided to tag along with me in the driver’s seat.

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The Famous Byeongcheon-Style Korean Sausage

April has been so far wonderful in Korea.  There were some chilly days with rain and wind that it seemed like spring would only show itself for a little while and never actually come.  Nevertheless, my friends back home tell me that it still feels like winter in Toronto and I am glad that here in Korea I would not need to face long, harsh days of cold.  For the last few days the temperature has been rising and during the day it almost feels like summer is just around the corner.

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A plate of Byeongcheon-style soondae (or sundae)

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Chestnut Jelly with Chestnut Rice Wine (and Chestnut Seafood Pizza!)

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Chestnut jelly soup – who would have thought?

If you are a hardcore Korean foodie then you probably have tried traditional Korean-style acorn jelly (or muk: 묵).  Making jelly out of acorn or other starchy vegetables has a long history in Korea in which the jellies became an important source of food for peasants to get through starvation.  The jellies are almost flavorless but they have unique texture and some nutrition so are often used as a topping for salads or bibimbaps.

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Getting through a Jesa with Your Pups

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The most patient dog in Korea

Another jesa is on for our family which is a typical routine at a home of the eldest son.  My father, the eldest of six, has been in charge of our family’s jesa (제사) – a traditional rite where you pay respect to your ancestors – for years that I can remember.  My mom, who has married my dad at the age of twenty-four, has now become a master of preparing jesa-sang (제사상: the table setting for jesa).  There are many things to prep for a jesa but mostly it is the dozens of traditional dishes that needed to be made as an offering to the ancestors.  Since both daughters were here in Korea for the time of this jesa my mom was overjoyed as she was not alone in the kitchen to cook out all the jesa food.

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Shots From Musangsa: An International Zen Centre in Kyeryong, Chungcheong-do

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A windy day at Musangsa

Forty-nine days have passed since my dear friend’s mother has passed away.  In Korea, a ceremonial ritual called sasip-gu jae (49재) is held depends on the religious belief of the deceased and their family.  My friend’s mother was a Buddhist and her 49 jae was carried out at a Zen temple called Mu Sang Sa (무상사) in Kyeryong city which is about half-an-hour drive from my home in Daejeon.

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