Spicy jelly with soy sauce. Doesn’t quite sound ordinary, does it? Well, it should if you live in Korea. Although the above photo may seem to unattentive eyes like some dish with lots of meat in it, Dotorimuk (도토리묵) is basically a jelly made from acorns.
The word “muk” (or “mook”) refers to a number of jelly-like korean foods that can be made from different stuff like acorn, buckwheat, sesame or beans. But when it is used without any qualifiers, it generally refers to dotorimuk, acorn jelly. The practice of making this jelly goes back to ancient Korea. When oak trees in the mountainous areas produced enough acorn each autumn, people used them as a source of food. Today, a lot of Korean people still gather acorns from mountains to make this jelly at home.
It is not the easiest thing to prepare from the scratch, but it is not that hard either, if you have the time. The gathered acorns are shelled, dried and powdered and then mixed with water. The water removes the bitter taste from the acorns and the starch will sink to the bottom. You discard the “dirty” water on top and add new water. This process is repeated for days, until the starch is no longer bitter. Then you go on to prepare porridge with the starch mixture.
Or, instead, you can just buy the powder for the jelly from a Korean grocery store, which will be a lot easier, and faster.
Dotorimuk -much like tofu- is highly nutritive and vegan friendly. It is served cold and has a bitter and unique flavour, which can probably only be described as acorn. Dotorimuk is usually enjoyed with several vegetables and/or appetizing spices and sauces, rather than alone. A good example to this is called dotorimuk muchim (pictured above), which is also the most popular way of eating this jelly.
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