How to make Korean temple food

Im finally back after a week long trip in Korea(South Korea of course) and after visiting Seokguram Grotto, which is a part of the Bulguksa temple complex.Construction began in 742 and it is a Buddhist temple. Buddhism was brought to Korea from China during Former Qin in 372 and slowly evolved into Korean buddhism which remains popular until today.Seokguram is an artificial grotto made from granite and is unique in design.

This image was taken from wikipedia as videos and photos are banned. theres actually a glass installed there now and only monks and nuns can actually get close to the carving.Since Buddhists are also vegetarian, this means unique vegetarian food to try!
Korean temple food has a 1700 year old tradition,that excludes all animal products. Milk is allowed, so temple food as a whole is not vegan while most of individual dishes are. Temple cooking is primarily based on seasonal plant-based ingredients, which are either organically grown in temple grounds or harvested from nearby fields and mountains.
Things to note
There are 5 forbidden vegetables, called oshinchae (오신채). They are garlic, scallion, onion, buchu (부추) – garlic chives, and dalrae (달래) – wild rocambole/small wild onion. These vegetables are considered stimulants which hinder spiritual meditation.
Temple dishes are lightly seasoned only with natural seasonings, so they generally have a mild, clean taste. Temple cooking uses a wide variety of natural flavor enhancers such as mushroom powder, lotus root powder, perilla seeds, etc. as well as temple made Korean traditional fermented condiments such as soy sauce (aka jib ganjang/soup soy sauce), doenjang (soybean paste) and gochujang (red chili pepper paste).
Because they have to work with limited ingredients, temple cooks are experts on identifying edible wild plants, creating many different dishes with limited ingredients, and preserving/pickling vegetables when they are in season for later use.
In Buddhist temples, cooking and eating is considered spiritual meditation. The food is made with care to nourish the body, mind, and soul of those who eat it. Food is considered medicine.

Lotus Seed Rice

Venerable Jeok Mun developed this recipe with monks in solo meditation in mind.
INGREDIENTS (serves 4)
1 cup sweet brown rice
1 cup sweet rice (a.k.a. glutinous white rice)
18 cups water
½ teaspoon salt plus more for seasoning
20 lotus seeds with skin on (피연자 pih yeon ja)
80 grams ginseng
10 ginkgo, peeled
1 tablespoon goji berries
1 tablespoon roughly chopped walnuts
1 tablespoon pine nuts

Wash sweet brown rice and sweet rice in cold water, then soak in 5 cups of water for 3 hours with a pinch of salt at room temperature. Drain and discard water.
Soak lotus seeds for 4 hours in 5 cups of water. Boil lotus seeds in water and ½ teaspoon of salt over high heat for 7~10 minutes. Rinse in cold water and drain. Remove the green embryo of lotus seeds and discard.
Soak black beans in 5 cups of water for at least 4 hours then drain.
Cut ginseng to 0.5×0.5×0.5-centimeter cubes.
Mix lotus seeds, black beans, ginseng, ginkgo, goji berries, walnuts, pine nuts with brown rice and sweet rice. Add 3 cups of new water.
Cook the rice mix from Step 5 in a rice cooker and let it rest before serving.

Korean temple ravioli

For the vegetable broth
250g fermented vegetable broth (see separate instructions below)
75g tomato consomme
75g water kimchi
10g ganjang (soy sauce)
5g salt


Mix all ingredients together.

For the fermented vegetable broth
300g onion
100g leek
100g carrot
300g radish
50g dried pyogo (Korean Mushroom with intense aroma)
300g tomato
150g apple
150g Asian pear
5g dashima (gonbu)


Step 1: Roughly chop all ingredients to 2 by 3cm pieces.
Step 2: Add all ingredients to an OCOO automatic fermentation machine and leave to ferment for 48 hours.
Step 3: After 48 hours, you will get dark and aromatic fermented vegetable essence.
Step 4: Drain the vegetable essence.
Step 5: Save all the leftover vegetables and leave them to dry (one of the principles of temple cuisine is never to throw away any part of your ingredients)
Step 6: Roast the leftover veg until very dark in colour, to make into a powder for seasoning.

For the ravioli dough
100g all-purpose glour
60ml water
Pinch of salt


Step 1: Mix all ingredients together to make the dough.
Step 2: Leave to rest in the refrigerator for at least six hours.

For the ravioli filling
30g mushroom duxelles (see instructions below)
30g Gobi namul (see instructions below)
30g smoked eggplant (see instructions below)


Chop all ingredients and mix together.

For the mushroom duxelles
25g shallots
8ml oil
100g button mushroom
Salt & pepper
10ml red wine
10ml Korean black rice vinegar


Step 1: Sweat the shallots with oil in the pan.
Step 2: Chop the mushrooms, add to the pan and continue to sweat.
Step 3: Season with salt and pepper.
Step 4: Deglaze with wine and vinegar.

For the Gobi namul
50g dried Gobi namul (Korean typical herb from Ulleung island, type of bracken)
5ml oil
5ml Ganjang (soy sauce)


Step 1: Rehydrate the Gobi namul in water for 2-4 hours.
Step 2: Slowly saute Gobi namul with oil and season with Ganjang.
Step 3: Chop it.

For the smoked eggplant
1 eggplant


Step 1: Burn the eggplant directly on a charcoal grill until the skin is black.
Step 2: Wash the eggplant in water and peel away the burnt skin while washing.
Step 3: Smoke in a smoking machine for 30 minutes. (Smoking enhances the aroma of the eggplant but you can skip this process if you don’t have a smoking machine.)

To make the ravioli
Step 1: When the dough is ready, roll into thin, round ravioli sheets.
Step 2: Stuff the filling and fold in half to make ravioli.
Step 3: Cut carrot and potatoes into thin circles. Place one on top of the ravioli.
Step 4: Steam for 10 minutes.

For the garnish
Boiled bamboo shoots
Sancho Jang a jji (pickled vegetables with salt)
Aralia Jang a jji (pickled blanched shoots of the Aralia plant)

Step 1: Put all garnish in a bowl.
Step 2: Place ravioli on top of garnish.
Step 3: Heat vegetables broth and pour into the bowl.
Step 4: Place ‘Sancho Jang a jji’ on top of ravioli.
Step 5: Sprinkle fermented vegetable powder.

video to make temple ravioli


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