Wednesday, September 29, 2021

[Food] Yeonnipbab (Steamed Lotus Leaf Rice, 연잎밥)


[Food] Yeonnipbab (Steamed Lotus Leaf Rice, 연잎밥)

Once upon a time in Korea, Buddhist monks often had to go on long journeys from their temple to another or through their country on an ascetic quest for eternal truth. There were no convenient means of transport in those days so they had to venture on foot, and they absolutely needed a 'lunchbox' or any food that they could find on their way to their final destination.

However, they didn't have any preservatives or iceboxes to prevent food from becoming stale. Rather, they applied some old wisdom to solve the problem :)

Lotus leaf

Lotus flower

The leaf of lotus, which is traditional Buddhist symbolism, grows out of polluted water and blossoms into a beautiful flower, has preservative substances within it so they were used as wrapping for food and rice for monks on their long travels. This wide and waterproof leaf kept food and rice fresh for several days so that monks could eat fresh lunch on the way :)

People called this steamed and wrapped lotus leaf rice 'yeonnipbab' which means 'lotus leaf rice'. It naturally became part of Korean Buddhist temple cuisine. To make yeonnipbab, put rice, nuts, minor cereals and other ingredients on a lotus leaf and wrap them, then steam the wrapped lotus leaves till they are done.

Steamed rice smells like a very authentic and delightful aroma of lotus leaf, and becomes chewy and a little stickier than Koreans' typical home cuisine. Cooks usually put pumpkin seed, dates, almonds, chestnuts and other ingredients to give it a crispy texture :)

Steamed lotus leaf rice and lotus root

Lotus leaf has plenty of vitamin C and fiber, and its aroma relaxes your mind and also helps blood vessels become healthy

Today Korean restaurants that serve yeonnipbab usually sell it as a set meal called 'Yeonnipbab Jungsik (Steamed Rice Wrapped in Lotus Leaf Set Meal)' with various side dishes, grilled fish and jjigae (Korean stew).

The ancient wisdom of Buddhist monks have become Korean gourmet today :) If you are looking for a healthy and balanced aromatic meal, how about sampling yeonnipbab? It may help you grow into a beautiful flower that is beyond your imagination :)

Bon Appétit! 

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