Gondre Rice. Today, we will take a quick peek into the world of Korean temple cuisine. Korean temple cuisine hits all the buzzwords: Slow-food, local, organic, vegan and very seasonal. But rightfully so! It’s healthy, nutritious and has decades of tradition to it. Today, we put a spotlight on Gondre Rice & Seasoned Bellflower Root.
Gondre rice is probably the best-known temple dish among everyday Koreans. In Korea, this dish is called ‘gondre-namul-bap’ (곤드레나물밥). Gondre (aka Korean thistle) grows naturally in the mountainous region of Korea, where Buddhist temples are located. It’s a nutritious wild veggie, filled with β-Carotene, which converts into Vitamin A in your body. But what does it taste like? Well, the stems are tough and rigid. But when they’re soaked and steamed, they turn soft and easy-to-chew. I particularly like gondre because it gives off an herbal tea aroma when its cooked. It awakens your senses.
The second dish is Bellflower Root Namul, also known as ‘doraeji-mamul’ (도라지나물). Bellflower root may look familiar as it’s used in traditional Bibimbap recipes. These roots provide a nice contrasting white color and a super crunchy texture to temple dishes. But how does it taste? The root tastes bitter, similar to ginseng. But when its rubbed in salt, it sweats out that bitter taste. And you’re left with a soft chewy root that adds nice contrast to any (meatless) dish.
Note: In traditional Korean temple cuisine, there are some guidances: First, monks try to avoid five pungent vegetables: onions, garlic, chives, green onions and leeks. Why? They may hinder the monk’s ability to meditate for extended period of time (aka flatulence, upset stomach, etc). In our bellflower root recipe, I used a teaspoon of minced garlic as I think it tastes better. But if you plan to do some extended meditation, skip it! 😁.
Second, Korean Buddhism forbids meat. So there are no animal products in any temple dish – with the exception of dairy.
Alrighty, I’ll stop there so you can get the recipe and cook! But if you want more of these temple banchans, leave a comment.
Enjoy the weekend neighbors! 🙃
Gondre Namul Rice & Bellflower Root Banchan
Yield 1-2 people
Gondre Rice is a delicious, aromatic bibimbap using wild thistle. Perfect for light dinners.
- Gondre (Korean Thistle) - 50 grams
- Rice - 1.5 cups
- Water - 1.5 cups
- Perilla oil - 1 Tablespoon (or use Sesame oil)
- Soy Sauce - 1 Tablespoon
Gondre Rice Seasoning
- Soy Sauce - 3 Tablespoons
- Minced garlic - 1/2 Tablespoon
- Sesame oil - 1 Tablespoon
- Gochugaru - 1/2 Tablespoon
- Sesame seeds -1 Tablespoon
- Chopped green onions - 1 stalk
Bellflower Root Namul
- Bellflower Root - 150 grams
- Salt - 1 Tablespoon (for sweating out the root)
- Minced garlic - 1 teaspoon (!)
- Salt - few shakes
- Chopped green onion - few pinches
- Sesame oil - a drizzle
- Soak gondre overnight in a large mixing bowl. (Or at least 5-6 hours if you want to make it on the same day).
- Drain the gondre after soaking. Then wash it under running water and give 2-3 thorough washes to get rid of any dirt or debris. Place in strainer.
- Then bring a pot of water up to boil. Once its boiling, place the gondre in. Then reduce the heat to a medium. Place the lid on the pot. Let it gently boil for 30 minutes.
- While you wait, make your rice: Pour rice (1.5 cups) into a rice bowl. Wash it out 2-3x. Then pour in water (1.5 cups) into the rice bowl. Set aside for later.
- After 30 minutes, carefully strain the boiled gondre. Rinse gondre under cold water to fully cool it down. Place in strainer.
- Then use your hands and squeeze out the water from the boiled gondre.
- Next, use a knife and cut the gondre lumps into smaller pieces (make rough chops).
- Now, place the gondre pieces into a mixing bowl. Season it with Perilla Oil (1T) and Soy Sauce (1T). Mix it with your hands and coat it evenly.
- Next, use your chopsticks and place the gondre over your rice bowl. Then, I would recommend putting in 2-3 additional dashes of water into the rice bowl (reference video).
- Place rice bowl into electric rice cooker. Start the machine 🙂
- Next, make the rice seasoning: Mix all of the listed ingredients under 'Gondre Rice Sesaoning'
- Once the rice is done cooking, use a rice paddle or wooden spatula and mix the gondre at the top with the rice at the bottom.
- Place mixed rice into bowl. Serve with a few spoonfuls of the Rice Seasoning. Bon Appetit!
Bellflower Root Namul
- If you bought the dried roots, soak them overnight (or 8-10 hours).
- After soaking, give a quick wash and strain them again. Then throw in salt (1 Tablespoon) and rub over the roots. Set aside for 5-10 minutes so the roots can sweat out the bitter flavor.
- Bring pot of water up to boil. Once it's boiling, blanche the roots for 30 seconds. Then strain them and rinse under cold water.
- Next, split any large root piece into smaller pieces with your hands. Throw out any rigid, stale pieces.
- Then squeeze the water out of the roots (don't forget this step!)
- Place a frying pan on medium heat. Place oil in. Once its hot, place minced garlic in (1 teaspoon). Once you can smell the garlic, place the roots in. Stir around for 1 minute. Turn the heat off.
- Then season with a few shakes of salt. And few pinches of green onion. As well as a drizzle of sesame oil.
- Plate and enjoy!
- See video below for more details