Saturday, May 22, 2010

O'ngo Cooking Class


Friday was Buddha's Birthday, a national holiday in Korea that is best celebrated in the mountains, where hundreds of glowing lanterns bob to the hypnotic sound of monks chanting. I was trapped in the city this year, so I decided to try out one of the classes that Daniel Gray over at Seoul Eats offers at the O'ngo studio. Because I work long hours and live alone, I've been doing very little cooking lately, so the communal aspect of making and eating food with a group of people appealed to me. With Chef Shawn leading the way, we cooked very simple but tasty vegetarian dishes in honor of the holiday.
We started with a chive salad and bibimbop, the traditional "mix it up" rice and veggie dish. Nothing fancy, but it was a lot of fun, and despite the simplicity, I'd never made either of these dishes before. As a bonus, Chef Shawn had prepared his own hand-made dwenjang sauce (fermented soybean paste) beforehand. It was too good to miss out on, but I love red pepper sauce on my bibimbop so I used a bit of both.
Next, we made zucchini and mushroom dwenjang jjigae. I'd never cooked or eaten dwenjang jjigae without any form of meat before, but the vegetarian version we made was excellent, and Dan was right about the tomato being a great addition to the stew--it mellows out the dwenjang flavor without masking it.
The studio is cozy and elegant, the class was well organized, and the final meal was fresh and satisfying. In all, it was a well spent holiday, and the abundance of vegetables gave me an excuse to scarf down kalbi for dinner later that night. Sorry, Buddha.

Zucchini & Mushroom Dwenjang Soup
Ingredients:
zucchini 20g
tomatoes 20g
mushroom 20g
spring onion 10g
dwenjang 1 Tbs (fermented soybean paste available at any Korean grocery)
water 1.5 cups
chopped garlic 1 tsp

Directions:
Wash all ingredients and cut zucchini into cubes and slice the mushrooms, tomatoes, and spring onions. Add water, garlic, and dwenjang and bring to a boil. Add the mushrooms, tomatoes, and zucchini and continue to boil the soup until it has fully cooked. Add spring onion and season as necessary. If you are vegetarian, be aware that some dwenjang contains anchovy.

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