Although jelly is usually associated with sweet desserts in the U.S., savory jelly made with starch, called muk/mook, is popular as a banchan (반찬; side dish) or a light entrée in Korea.  An easy preparation of muk – mung bean jelly (청포묵; cheong po muk), acorn jelly (도토리 묵; do to ri muk) or buckwheat jelly (메밀묵; me mil muk) – is to toss them in light sesame oil seasoning.  It becomes a simple, yet flavorful dish that brings together the cooling, bouncy texture of the jelly pieces and the nutty and refreshing flavors of sesame oil and fresh herbs.  It’s one of those dishes I am more drawn to as the days get warmer.

You can usually find pre-packaged muk next to tofu in Korean grocery stores.  Making your own muk from starch powder, which can be also found in Korean grocery stores, is a pretty quick process that requires minimal ingredients of starch powder, salt and water with a couple of hours of chilling time.  You can make muk ahead for the next day and mix with seasoning right before serving.  Not only does the homemade product give you a bouncier block of muk, you can make your own shapes and flavors.  Because of mung bean jelly’s (청포묵; cheong po muk) white color and neutral taste, I find it easier to play with at home and make something pretty like gochujang (고추장; Korean red chili paste) muk.

Although perilla leaves (깻잎; ggaenip) and garlic chives (부추; bu chu) are popular additions that are tossed in with muk, feel free to find other herbs with relatively strong flavors.  I used a combination of mint and cilantro, which livened up the dish that was still reminiscent of traditional muk salads.

You can cut muk to bite-size pieces, toss with sesame oil and soy sauce and have a quick muk salad.  If you can take a little more time and make 2 different flavors and plate them like a checkerboard, it can also be a dish for your dinner party.


It is best to finish the muk dish once it gets tossed in seasoning.  Any leftover should be covered tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerated.

KOREAN WORDS

seasoning   양념    (yang nyeom)

spring          봄      (bom)