Although jelly is usually associated with sweet desserts in the U.S., savory jelly made with starch, called muk/mook, is popular as a banchan (반찬; side dish) or a light entrée in Korea. An easy preparation of muk - mung bean jelly (청포묵; cheong po muk), acorn jelly (도토리 묵; do to ri muk) or buckwheat jelly (메밀묵; me mil muk) - is to toss them in light sesame oil seasoning. It becomes a simple, yet flavorful dish that brings together the cooling, bouncy texture of the jelly pieces and the nutty and refreshing flavors of sesame oil and fresh herbs. It's one of those dishes I am more drawn to as the days get warmer.
You can usually find pre-packaged muk next to tofu in Korean grocery stores. Making your own muk from starch powder, which can be also found in Korean grocery stores, is a pretty quick process that requires minimal ingredients of starch powder, salt and water with a couple of hours of chilling time. You can make muk ahead for the next day and mix with seasoning right before serving. Not only does the homemade product give you a bouncier block of muk, you can make your own shapes and flavors. Because of mung bean jelly's (청포묵; cheong po muk) white color and neutral taste, I find it easier to play with at home and make something pretty like gochujang (고추장; Korean red chili paste) muk.
Although perilla leaves (깻잎; ggaenip) and garlic chives (부추; bu chu) are popular additions that are tossed in with muk, feel free to find other herbs with relatively strong flavors. I used a combination of mint and cilantro, which livened up the dish that was still reminiscent of traditional muk salads.
You can cut muk to bite-size pieces, toss with sesame oil and soy sauce and have a quick muk salad. If you can take a little more time and make 2 different flavors and plate them like a checkerboard, it can also be a dish for your dinner party.
To make mung bean jelly (청포묵; cheong po muk), start by greasing a baking pan (or another pan that can be used as a jelly mold) with sesame oil. Set aside.
Add 1/4 C of mung bean starch and 1/4 ts of salt to 1 3/4C of cold water (mung bean starch: water = 1:7 ratio by volumn) in a pot. Stir to mix with no big lumps over low heat. Stir often so that starch powder doesn't sink to the bottom. After 5-10 minutes, when the liquid starts thickening, stir constantly. Once it starts boiling, stir for another 3 minutes. Remove from heat, immediately pour the liquid in the baking pan. Line the top of jelly with plastic wrap so that it doesn't dry out. Cool to room temperature, then transfer to the refrigerator to completely chill for about an hour.
To make gochujang muk, stir in 2 ts of gochujang along with mung bean starch, salt and water. Follow the same ingredient measurements and procedures as above.
To make soy sauce seasoning, mix 2 TBSP soy sauce,1 ts sesame seeds, 1/2 ts chili powder, 1 TBSP finely sliced cilantro, 1 TBSP finely sliced mint leaves. Set aside.
To assemble, trim off the edges and cut cheongpo muk and gochujang muk to small squares. Toss in 1 TBSP of sesame oil. Lay out the squares in alternate colors. With a teaspoon or a mini baller, scoop out the middle of white squares (cheongpo muk) without piercing through the bottom. Fill the holes with the seasoning. As gochujang muk is flavored with, well, gochujang already, taste first and adjust the amount of seasoning - it may not need much. Garnish with sliced scallions.
It is best to finish the muk dish once it gets tossed in seasoning. Any leftover should be covered tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerated.
seasoning 양념 (yang nyeom)
spring 봄 (bom)