Beombeok is a Korean dish comprised of various ingredients like red beans, pumpkin, and corn mixed with grains. It was once a sought-after snack among wealthy families in ancient Korea, but for the average citizen it was more of a meal.
According to Jeju traditional food expert Yang Yong Jin, Jeju beombeok can be made with radish, pumpkin, seaweed, and other similar ingredients.
Yang says that though Jeju is known for its unforgiving agricultural environment, buckwheat grows well on the island. It matures in less than 100 days so it can be planted in late autumn and harvested before winter, avoiding typhoon and frost damage. This is why buckwheat has traditionally been a common grain on Jeju.
Buckwheat, with a high protein content and lots of carbohydrates from the sweet potato, was also treated as an emergency food source during the leaner winter months on Jeju.
The only problem with buckwheat was that it was hard to refine so traditionally the people ground the grain with the husk, resulting in a more bitter taste. To improve the flavor of buckwheat dishes, people would add sweet potato.
This became a fan favorite among the people of Jeju. And now you, too, can enjoy this sweet, traditional snack.
Ingredients (serves 2 to 3) 3 or 4 sweet potatoes buckwheat powder (200ml) water (300ml) 1 teaspoon salt
Recipe 1. Peel the sweet potatoes and cut them into pieces. 2. Put the sweet potatoes, water, and salt in a pot and boil for about 15 minutes until the sweet potatoes are completely cooked. 3. Turn down the heat and add the buckwheat powder to the pot. Stir the powder and the sweet potato pieces for two or three minutes until it is thoroughly mixed.
▲ photos by Kim Jung Lim
Notes There is a saying in Jeju that goes, “Buckwheat, once you hold it in your arms, it is enough to be cooked.” You don’t need to cook the dish for long after the buckwheat powder has been added.
The amount of water depends on your taste. With the recipe above, a cake-like beombeok is made but if you desire a kind of porridge, just add more water.
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