As part of the Diploma in Plant-Based Culinary Arts, students at Le Cordon Bleu London recently enjoyed a special live streamed lecture on Korean temple food with Buddhist nun and chef, Venerable Beop Song.
The Cultural Corps of Korean Buddhism, the Korean Cultural Center UK and Le Cordon Bleu have arranged to include South Korean temple food as a regular feature of the Diploma in Plant-Based Culinary Arts at Le Cordon Bleu London, with at least one class scheduled every term.
A renowned chef and cookbook author, Ven. Beop Song became a Buddhist nun under the tutelage of Venerable Seongkwan in 1996. She has refined her practice of temple cooking with the guidance of master monks and nuns who have a deep foundational knowledge of the cuisine. Ven. Beop Song seeks to make the mindful cooking and eating methods of temple food accessible to people through sharing and teaching at various institutions and touring all over the world.
To start the demonstration, Ven. Beop Song introduced students to the characteristics and history of temple food, and some of the seasonal ingredients that would be used in the temple at this time of year. This was followed by the preparation of some traditional dishes, including: a simple mugwort rice cake (ssuk beomuri), savoury coriander pancakes (gosu jeon), seasoned aster namul (chwi-namul), kalopanax shoots doenjang soup with soybean flour, sedum kimchi (dolnamul kimchi) and fresh coriander kimchi (gosu geotjeori). During this section of the event, students had the opportunity to try some authentic Korean ingredients, provided by The Korean Cultural Centre and prepared by Le Cordon Bleu Master Chefs.
Temple food is distinguished by its focus on health, ecology, seasonality and zero waste. Put simply, the idea is to prepare food to benefit health with a minimalist approach to achieve excellent flavours. Dishes are created using ancient techniques and traditions, with care and attention to detail on how the food is prepared and consumed. The practice emphasises respect for locally grown ingredients, no more than 10 miles away from the temple, and the importance of quality ingredients and balanced flavours. Appreciation of seasonal produce is also central, relying on nature to provide nutrition from plants to benefit health at any time of year.
Korean temple food is just one of the fascinating topics featured on the Diploma in Plant-Based Culinary Arts. The diploma focuses on crafting excellent dishes solely from plants, providing a creative repertoire of product knowledge, skills and recipes. Within the course students explore a wide range of vegetables, fruit, nuts, seeds, grains and pulses, gaining expert knowledge on ingredient varieties and innovative culinary uses. The course has been designed to provide specialised culinary education for the growing demand for vegan, vegetarian and plant-based restaurants and products.