I signed up for the Ggureomi expecting a bit of a challenge. Rather than choosing my food based on taste and familiarity, I wanted to eat in accordance with what the earth, and the farmers who worked it, could provide. Over the spring and summer, this wasn't too much of a problem. After all, fresh fruit can be eaten with absolutely no foresight at all, and just about any vegetable you can imagine can be worked into a soup, salad, or stir-fry, if you can't eat it raw. Eggs and tofu and bean sprouts are versatile and easy to dispose of, and roasting takes care of just about any root vegetable that comes out in Autumn. Really, the only adventures of the past nine months have been kimchi, clumps of fermented soybeans, and behemoth radishes, but even those projects went pretty smoothly.
Now, though, winter is fully upon us and times are slightly tougher. The fruit trees have nothing to offer and the vegetable plots have all been raided. If not for greenhouses and food imported from the tropics, what would we be using to keep us going through these days of relentless wind and subzero temperatures? The latest Ggureomi offers an answer: leftovers. Or rather, set-asides, food wisely and intentionally left uneaten during times of plenty so that we're not stuck with rice, beans, radishes, and kimchi all the way through March. Here are the details:
9-Grain rice mix, which is made up of:
- organic glutinous brown and white rice
- pesticide-free white rice
- organic soritae and seonbijabi beans (related to black beans)
- organic black rice
- organic glutinous millet
- glutinous millet
Bean sprouts, pesticide-free, 300g
Radish leaves, pesticide-free, dried, 100g
Baby Pumpkin, dried, 70g. This is the light green, sausage-shaped pumpkin seen here.
Chwinamul, dried, 60g. This one has a deep, almost meaty fragrance and is said to be full of protein, calcium, B vitamins, and iron.
방풍나물, dried, 60g. The name, "bangpungnamul" looks like it means "windbreaker plant." Some sources say it's similar to parsnip. I've got no clue!
Rice Ramen, MSG and pesticide- free, made from indigenous rice breeds, 2 containers
So, it looks like the next couple month will involve quite a bit of trial and error as I try to figure out how to reconstitute and season a bunch of plants I have hardly ever heard of, let alone cooked with. Thankfully, there's a little instruction blurb in the newsletter:
Dried vegetables should be soaked in lukewarm water for at least an hour. If they're still a bit stiff, boil them slightly until they soften up. After boiling, Chinamul and Bangpungnamul should be rinsed until the rinsing water remains clear, then all liquid should be squeezed out. Season according to taste; stew soy sauce (국간장) goes well with dried vegetables. Add minced garlic, green onions, and perilla oil and stir-fry. Or, do a wet stir-fry using anchovy broth. Dried vegetables yield 2-6 times more once soaked.
It may seem a little silly to go through all the hassle of de- and re-hydrating vegetables, but in the past it was probably a necessary strategy to avoid starvation and malnutrition over the winter. Furthermore, as oil prices rise, so will the price of fertilizer, transportation, and packaging, meaning that low-input, low-impact methods of cooking and preservation will likely regain some of their lost status. Plus, dried vegetables taste awesome and can add a great, tough, chewy texture to meals, kind of reminiscent of jerky. I'll be back with updates once I've actually gotten around to the cooking. In the meantime, enjoy these pictures. There's something awesome close-ups of grains and legumes, don't you think?
Aforementioned millet varieties and black rice.
Glutinous white and brown rice, plain white rice.
If you're interested in signing up for your own Ggureomi deliveries, please send an email to noksaeksari [at] gmail [dot] com for more info.