November 4, 2020
Temple Cuisine in South Korea
A centuries-old Korean tradition, Buddhist temple cuisine is highly recommended for vegetarians and travelers wanting to experience a unique side of South Korean culture.
Artisans of Leisure regularly arranges meals at Buddhist temples or restaurants specializing in temple cuisine for travelers on our private tours in South Korea.
Cooking and eating at a Korean Buddhist temple are considered forms of spiritual practice. Temple cuisine tends to be restrained, focusing on enhancing the flavors already present in the ingredients. In addition to prohibiting meat, temple cuisine also excludes onions, garlic and other alliums.
That doesn’t mean that temple cuisine is bland. Monks and nuns ferment, pickle and dehydrate ingredients to create spicy, tangy and strong flavors.
Temple meals tend to be diverse, with as many as 25 or more dishes, such as root chips, marinated tofu, pickled radishes, sauteed greens, sticky rice and mushroom fritters. Dishes may also incorporate doenjang (soybean paste) or fermented sauces like gochujang (red pepper paste) and ganjang (soy sauce).
Korean temple cuisine developed in Buddhist temples around the country. Many Buddhist temples in South Korea are remote and had limited access to the outside world until fairly recently. Monks and nuns learned to grow and forage seasonal plants, nuts and other ingredients in the area surrounding their temples. Differences in location and seasonal ingredients meant that each temple created its own specialties, so the cuisine varies from temple to temple.
An important complement to Korean temple cuisine is tea, which may be brewed with flowers, berries or tea leaves.
Our private South Korea tours include the option to enjoy a multicourse Buddhist temple meal at a top restaurant in Seoul. Artisans of Leisure can also arrange an overnight temple stay, which allows travelers to enjoy temple cuisine, experience the life of Buddhist monks, and learn about Korean Buddhist culture and history at a Korean temple.
Contact Artisans of Leisure to begin planning a private South Korea tour filled with unique and immersive cultural and culinary experiences.