Experiences - Asia

4 Must-have Korean Buddhist Dishes

It is not hard to find veg food in Korea if you’re a staunch vegetarian. Korean food encompasses different cuisine types and Buddhist cuisine is one among them.  It is followed by monks and many believers from areas historically influenced by Chinese Buddhism and are vegetarian or vegan, based on the Dharmic concept of ahimsa (non-violence).

Korean Buddhist dishes and cuisine have been around for at least 1,600 years and basically focuses on eating food that facilitates a clean mind to achieve the meditative state while also get adequate nutrition to maintain an equilibrium of mind, body and the soul.

Buddhist monks and nuns prohibited the harming of plants and hence root vegetables such as potatoes, carrots or onion and garlic are not used as these result in the death of a plant. Also these are high energy foods that interfere with the meditative state of mind.

Buddhist cuisine does not include meat and has a range of veggies and veg based food such stir-fried greens, squash, tofu based dishes and green tea. In Korean temples, eating is considered a form of prayer, showing an appreciation for nature and healthy eating.

Here are 4 must-have Korean Buddhist Dishes

Kongguksu ( Soy bean noodles)

Kongguksu is a seasonal Korean noodle dish served in a cold soy milk broth. It comprises noodles made with wheat flour and soup made from ground soybeans. A vegetarian dish with creamy soy milk with a delicate nutty flavor is delightful and refreshing!

4 must-have  Korean buddhist dishes


Image Courtesy: Jirka Matousek used under the Creative Commons Licence

Yaksik  (medicinal food)

Yaksik is a sweet Korean dish made by steaming glutinous rice, and mixing with chestnuts, jujubes ( Korean dates), and pine nuts. It is seasoned with honey or brown sugar, sesame oil, soy sauce, and sometimes cinnamon. Yaksik was served for Buddhist altars and is traditionally eaten on Jeongwol Daeboreum, a Korean holiday which falls on every 15 January in the lunar calendar, but also for weddings and hwangap festivities.

korean buddhist dishes

Image Courtesy: summer park used under the Creative Commons Licence

Yakgwa ( Traditional Dessert )

Yakwa is a Korean traditional dish made from honey, sesame oil, and wheat flour. It resembles a biscuit in a flower shape.

must have korean buddhist dishes

Image Courtesy: Republic of Korea used under the Creative Commons Licence

Luo Hon Jai (Buddhist vegetarian stew)

Mostly eaten by Buddhists, this dish is served in most Chinese households during the first few days of the new year and is made of ingredients such as gingko nuts and lily buds. Most of the ingredients symbolise luck, wealth and fortune. Eating vegetarian the first day of New Year also symbolizes purification of the body and upholds the tradition of having no animal slaughter on the first day of the New Year.

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