When I lost my mom, I felt my heart bleeding to death. I didn’t know how to fill such a big hole in my heart or stop the flood of my teardrops. Time thankfully turned into a medicine for me. Day by day, I put myself together again and learned to live my life with a new void in my heart. On August 12th every year, the day my mom passed away, my family gets together in a Buddhist temple to honor her life and cherish our memories of her. This Korean annual memorial ceremony is called a “Jaisa”.
A “Jaisa” usually starts with lighting some incense on a table in the Buddhist shrine covered with traditional Buddhists’ foods such as rice, radish soup, vegetables, fruits and rice cake. The Buddhist monk dressed in his grey gown then walks in to chant while playing a moktak (a wooden-fish percussion instrument) to the rhythm of the recitation. While listening to the calming sounds of the Buddhist harmony, all of my family members take turns paying respects to my Mom by getting up, putting a cup of rice wine on the table and bowing twice to her picture. When the ceremony ends, we burn Mom’s name card to ashes while chanting with the monk. It symbolizes our wishes for her spirit to reach nirvana. Lastly, we clear the table and share the foods with others. Culturally, consuming and sharing these ritual foods means receiving the blessings from the deceased. “Jaisa” is a great traditional way to show gratitude and strengthen family connection.
Korean Buddhist temple foods are purely vegan. Killing or harming animals are forbidden in the Buddhist philosophy, so, temple dishes are usually made with vegetables, tofu or soy beans and seasoned with dried kelps, seaweed, salt, bean paste or soy sauce. Today, I’m making delicious Korean Buddhist vegetable crepes made with chives, red onion & mushrooms in my California kitchen.
To start, I mix 1 cup flour, 1 cup water with 1 teaspoon sea salt and ½ teaspoon sugar in a bowl. Next, I chop one bunch chives into 5-inch length pieces and thinly slice one small red onion & 4 mushrooms to mix with the flour batter. Then, I preheat some olive oil in a non-stick pan to medium heat and spread a ¼ of the vegetable batter evenly and thinly on the fry pan (to make 4 crepes). When bottom of the crepe turns light golden brown, I turn it over to cook the other side of the crepe until crispy. I flip it over 2 more time to cook both sides for a couple of minutes. Finally, I serve them hot with dipping sauce made with 2 Tablespoons soy sauce & 1 Tablespoon rice vinegar.
This dish is so simple yet so yummy! How fresh, light and natural every bite tastes! Crunchy red onion, earthy mushroom & herbaceous chives are beautifully held together and shine in the simple backdrop of the flour batter. The balanced combination of varied textures & flavors make these veggie crepes very complex and flavorful. If all vegan foods were as tasty as these crepes, I’d probably go vegan. Enjoy the discovery of this delicious meal made healthy at the Korean Buddhist temple. Happy cooking!