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Patjuk print

Comfort Food for Winter Solstice
Red Bean Gruel
ongji (Winter Solstice) refers to the day in December when the sun is at its greatest distance from the equatorial plane. It’s the day when the length of daylight is at its shortest and nighttime at its longest. What did Koreans do on Winter Solstice? They prepared a nutritious comfort food, red bean gruel or patjuk, and shared it with their neighbors. Red beans and its red color are associated with the red color of yang (positive) of Eastern philosophy, and therefore people believe it helped ward off the presence of departed souls. Thus, some Koreans consider the Winter Solstice as another New Year’s of sorts, in which the safe passing of the shortest day in winter meant an increase in age.

Red bean gruel was used for other purposes, too. In the royal courts, during sambok, or the dog days of summer, red bean gruel was served to prevent various ailments caused by yeokshin, or the goddess of smallpox. Does this sound somewhat far-fetched? Some of the reasoning behind the customs of red bean gruel may seem mythical but there’s some logic behind it as well. Red beans are believed to be effective in warming and hydrating the body. Furthermore, they’re believed to contain the greatest amount of vitamin B1 of all grains. Since rice, the staple food of Korea, lacks vitamin B1, red beans were often steamed with rice or served in other forms such as gruel to replenish the body. Taking red beans, washing them thoroughly and then boiling them in hot water make red bean gruel. Once coming a boil, the pot is drained and the red beans are boiled again until soft, and ground in preparation for the next step. Some glutinous rice is added to the mix and then boiled again. Red bean gruel is not the only comfort food enjoyed during winter days when evil is said to lurk. Medicinal herbs, goldongmyeon (mixed noodles), naengmyeong (cold noodles), dongchimi (chopped radishes pickled in salted water), jangkimchi, makkimchi, roasted herring and sujeonggwa (a fruit drink made of honey, dried persimmons, pine nuts and cinnamon) are often enjoyed as well. Try some traditional flavors to warm the souls of your loved ones this winter with a good hearty bowl of red bean gruel.
Dongji Patjuk (Red Bean Gruel for Winter Solstice)
Non-glutinous rice (1 cup)
Red beans (2cups)
Water (20 cups)
Red beans, boiled water (14 cups)
Glutinous rice flour (2 cups)
Salt (1/3 small tablespoons)
Water (3 spoonfuls)
Salt (1/2 spoonful)
Cooking Instructions
1. Wash red beans thoroughly in cold water and soak in water for 2~3 hours.

2. Take the soaked red beans out and wash them again. Then place them in a pot and simmer at medium heat for about an hour until the beans are soft enough to be crushed between your thumb and forefinger. When the red beans are ready, take a wooden rice scoop and crush the boiled red beans through a metal sieve. Slowly pour some water on the sieve to completely drain the contents and discard the skins left on the sieve. Make sure the “red bean water” comes to approximately 14 cups in total.

3. Take the 2 cups of glutinous rice flour and knead into small round pieces 1.5~2 cm in size using hot water and salt. This is called (saearshim). 4. Pour the “red bean water” into a pot and add soaked rice into the mix. Start at high heat for 10 minutes and when the contents come to a boil, lower to medium heat and simmer for 30~40 minutes. When the rice looks ready, add prepared red beans without skins and continue to boil at medium heat, stirring for about 5 minutes. Next, add saearshim (kneaded pieces made from glutinous rice flour) into the pot and boil an additional 5 minutes. When saearshim are cooked, the small pieces will float to surface. For a finishing touch, sprinkle some salt for seasoning.

Note Injeulmi or rice cake covered with bean flour sliced to small pieces, can be
used in place of saearshim.
The article courtesy of Seoul magazine

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