Posted by Tammy
I found a Korean pomegranate recipe on Korea.net by Kim Yong-ja back in December 2009. When I decided to make the Seongnyu-muk (Pomegranate Jelly) recipe, I knew immediately that I’d have to make a couple of modifications to make it more user-friendly (and edible for me and my family).
The first modification was the purchase of already squeezed pomegranate juice rather than squeezing it from scratch. Since pomegranate juice is readily available in most American supermarkets, that alteration went smoothly.
However, I also had to make a more serious alteration to the recipe. My family lives by kosher dietary laws. This means we do not eat any pork or shellfish, ever. Since most gelatin is made from pork, someone who lives a kosher lifestyle must read labels to find out if the gelatin on the grocery store shelves is suitable for consumption. If you are looking for flavored gelatin, in such products as Jell-O, finding kosher certified options are no problem. Most of Jell-O’s offerings are Kosher-certified, but I didn’t want flavored gelatin, I needed unflavored gelatin and Jell-O doesn’t sell unflavored gelatin.
The only kind of unflavored gelatin available in all the stores I visited was Knox. Knox’s gelatin is not kosher. I traveled to every grocery store I could think of to find kosher unflavored gelatin and I came home empty handed every time.
Since none of the local stores near my home carried the unflavored kosher gelatin I needed for this recipe, I ordered it online at IsraeliKosher.com. Since the shipping was so expensive, I ordered more than I needed (and gave away the rest to some of my friends who find themselves in an equally difficult situation if they want to make this recipe.)
It arrived in the mail about a week after I ordered it. Even though the box was stuffed with old newspaper, the boxes were a bit rough around the edges.
The second detail I noticed was the misspelling of the word gelatin. Korean companies are often criticized for neglecting to hire native English speakers to review their packaging, PR releases, etc., before publishing. They aren’t the only ones with that issue, apparently.
However, packaging and shipping are minor details. My main concern is whether the kosher gelatin works as well as the regular gelatin. I’d never had “fish gelatin” before so this was quite the experiment for me.
Do you have a “must have” cooking ingredient that’s impossible (or nearly impossible) to find on your local grocery store shelves? Tell us about it in the comments section below.
Tammy Quackenbush lives in the San Francisco Bay Area. Her love of Korean food started when she taught ESL in Chuncheon, Gangwon-do, back in 1996-1997. However, she didn’t become “famous” for her Korean cooking style until she started making cooking videos on YouTube as Koreanfornian Cooking in 2007 (had to put her college degree to use somehow). Her recipes and articles have been featured on Slice/Seriouseats.com, Foodbuzz, Korea.net and iFoodTV.com.