Vegan's Chronicles + [Vegan]

Thankful for Chuseok

How was everyone's Chuseok holiday? Well, the original plan was to do one massive Chuseok post, but I've decided to break it down into a few manageable sections because otherwise it would just be obscenely long. So I'll first focus on all the delicious meals and snacks I got to consume at home.

My Chuseok celebrations got a bit of a late start in that I didn't get down to my parents' place in Cheonan until Thursday, whereas most people kicked things off on Wednesday, or even Tuesday (you lucky ones know who you are!).

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For our belated family Chuseok dinner, my family kept things relatively simple. Cooking traditional Korean food can be so time-consuming for the women of the house, with preparations often starting the day before, and since we weren't having any guests or relatives over this year, we went with a more manageable, modest menu.

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The star of the dinner was this platter of various, lightly sauteed vegetables: shiitake mushrooms, enoki mushrooms, onions, and carrots, with a sesame oil-soysauce dressing.

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Gosari namul ("fern brake" side dish). When I first tried gosari in bibimbab several years ago, I felt like I was eating shriveled up earthworms. Was not a fan at first, but now I really like 'em!

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pickled onions

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Lightly sauteed cucumber banchan

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dwenjang jjigye (totally vegan)

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All together on ma plate! It wasn't a typical, extravagant Korean Chuseok meal, but it was rustic, healthy, and thoroughly enjoyed.

Breakfast the next day was all kinds of deliciousness:

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My mom had some homemade patjook (red bean porridge) stored in the freezer for me to try when I came home, so that replaced my usual bowl of oatmeal.

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Beans vs. Oats? Hm, tough call. My mom has always made excellent patjook, and this was no exception, even though it had been frozen and reheated!

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We also had two different kinds of Korean steamed bread, studded with sweetened kidney beans and green peas. Steamed bread can definitely be made vegan, but many Koreans add dairy milk. Since I couldn't be sure, I only had a tiny bite of each, just to taste them. I love the texture of steamed bread and plan on attempting my own soon. :)

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Apples and kiwi~

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Oh, and what's this, you ask? It's a few homemade songpyeon ddeoks (more on that in my next post), and a giant frozen persimmon. In other words, "happiness on a plate". If you're wondering where we got such a big ripe persimmon when fall has barely begun, well, you got me. This is actually a persimmon from last winter, that had been hiding in the freezer for all these months! My mom's freezer is just filled with surprises.

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Mr. Persimmon Head got split right down the middle... I can't wait for persimmon season to hit full-force, so that I can start enjoying my favorite frozen fruit lollies again. Gosh, Persimmon Season, hurry up already!

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Better than any processed icecream or sorbet.

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For a snack, I got to enjoy this season's first plate of steamed chestnuts.

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It's so fun to crack the chestnuts in your teeth and then spoon out the "meat"! :)

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Day #2's dinner was another colorful spread of vegan goodness.

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A raw salad plate of cucumbers, orange and yellow bell peppers, and fresh sprouts, to be dressed in a mustard-vinaigrette dressing (not pictured)...

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Tofu, two ways: Panfried tofu in soysauce...

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... and panfried tofu cubes in a spicy gochujang sauce. To make this tofu dish, fry the tofu cubes (about 1/2 a tofu block) in a bit of oil, til they are golden brown on all sides. In a separate bowl, mix:

  • 1 Tbs gochujang
  • 1 Tbs brown rice syrup (can substitute with sugar)
  • 1 tsp soy sauce
  • 1 tsp sesame seed oil
  • 1 tsp red pepper flakes.
Pour this sauce mixture over the fried tofu cubes in the pan (on low heat), and toss until all the cubes are sauced-up. Plate, sprinkle with some sesame seeds, and enjoy!

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Pickled garlic cloves

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My (first) plate.

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A plate of juicy, crunchy Korean fall pears for dessert is absolutely mandatory. I'm not a fan of soft, Western pears, but I can make an entire Korean pear the size of my face disappear like it's no one's business. Gawd, I love fall fruits!

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More fall fruit for breakfast the following morning.

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And to conclude today's post on this year's Chuseok chows, here's a mini snack plate of ddeok and one leftover chestnut. :) Those ddeoks were more treasures that my mom had tucked away in her freezer- gotta love random 'freezer finds'. Just a quick 30-second nuke in the microwave brought these frozen ddeoks back to their original soft, chewy texture. The filling in that orange pumpkin ddeok was sweetened beans and peanut chunks. Dang, it was good. Ddeok is just way too addicting for my own good.

Phew! So that's merely a portion of the food I ate in Cheonan. Stay tuned for picnic meals and homemade songpyeon!