Above: Dotorimuk muchim
You know that combination of food that pairs curiously well together? Like champagne and fries, peanut butter and bananas, chicken and waffles, or a burrito and a slurpee? Ok, maybe the burrito and slurpee is just my thing. But, i sure do revel in a bean and cheese burrito, with yellow mustard smothered on top, washed down with a coke slurpee, now and again. I use to take great pleasure in “feasting” on this perfectly complemented combination, while sitting outside my neighborhood 7-11, during the endless days of summer, when i was a kid.
And what does this have to do with Korean Acorn Jelly – Dotorimuk (in Korean)? Well you see, when i asked my friend Jin – who i met while living in Korea, “what do you think of when I say, Dotorimuk” and his reply, without hesitation, said “Makkoli.”
In Korea Dotorimuk- Korean Acorn Jelly is usually paired with Makkoli. Makkoli is a traditional alcoholic beverage, native to Korea. Makkoli (rice wine in english), is made with fermented rice (only natural – EVERYTHING in Korea is fermented), which results in a milky white, sweet, carbonated alcoholic drink. The carbonation gives it a unique, but refreshing flavor, which is comparable to drinking a Sprite, but with alcohol.
Makkoli was not my drink of choice while living Korea, but i always enjoyed grazing on dotorimuk, when a bottle (or six, it’s Korea, they drink A LOT) of Makkoli was ordered for the table.
Above: Dotorimuk – Acorn jelly
Dotorimuk is an acorn jelly, which is made from acorns. You can make the flour from scratch IF you have an oak tree, bearing acorns or buy them from the supermarket, if your supermarket has them available.
Basically, you would remove the shells, skin, soak (important step, as it removes the bitter tannins from the acorn) and grind the acorns to a powder and use the flour to make the jelly. However, if you DON’T have acorns laying around, you can buy acorn starch (see photo of package in recipe below).
Korean Acorn Jelly – Dotorimuk is rather bland, it has more texture than flavor. As a result, it is usually served with various bitter and sweet raw greens, combined with a sweet and spicy like-dressing. When the greens and “dressing” are added it is then called “Dotorimuk muchim.” In Korea, Dotorimuk muchim is served cold and as a side dish, to complement Makkoli.
Above: Perilla Leaf – “Seasame Leaf”
The choice of greens are entirely up to you, but i would like to suggest one in particular, the Perilla Leaf or sometimes called sesame leaf and looks similar to a nettle (see photo above).
Perilla is an herb of the mint family and has no relation to the sesame seed, sesame oil or sesame plant. Korean cuisine uses this herb in many of their dishes and is almost always offered as one of the greens for Korean BBQ, in Korea.
Outside of Korea, i have only found this herb at Korean markets. I know other asian countries use this herb in their food, so you might be lucky enough to locate it at a Japanese market too.
I think the taste of the herb, is somewhat bitter, similar to arugula and not AT all like mint. If you are unable to locate the Perilla Leaf, use greens you might not necessarily use on a regular basis, experiment.
Another green to experiment with is “crown daisy,” aka “chrysanthemum greens,” both Koreans and Japanese use this green. Again, use any green of choice, whatever your preference.
Above- first image on left side: “Gochugaru” hot pepper flakes
For the “dressing,” there is only one “Korean pantry essential” and the rest are “everyday,” regular, supermarket accessible ingredients.
The specific Korean ingredient is “Gochugaru” hot pepper flakes, which are coursly ground (see photo above- first image on left hand side). I realize to buy one specific ingredient for one specific dish seems a waste of money.
However, trust me when i say this, countless other Korean dishes use this one ingredient. So, if you plan on adding additional Korean recipes to your repertoire, this is a “Korean pantry essential.” And i promise to do my part to help you use most, if not all of the hot pepper flakes, by adding more Korean recipes to my blog. Currently, there is already one blog post for a Korean recipe, Korean Beef Tacos.
Finally – I have only found Acorn jelly starch (see photo of package below) in Korean supermarkets (but you might find it in a Japanese supermarket). If you can’t locate it or would rather not make the acorn jelly (however, i highly suggest at least trying it once), i have a few alternatives. You can pair the salad with grilled eggplant, tofu, grilled prawns, grilled octopus (my personal favorite) smoked fish, sashimi, the options are endless.
This dish is very quick, the acorn starch only requires water, one pot and about 8 minutes. However, the jelly does need to firm up in the fridge for about two hours. The greens and dressing can be prepped in about 10 minutes. And all of this can be made a day in advance.
And now i give you: Korean Acorn Jelly – Dotorimuk muchim
- Acorn Jelly
- ½ cup acorn starch powder
- 3 cups water
- ⅓ cup soy sauce
- 1½ teaspoon sugar
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 teaspoons hot pepper flakes (more if you want it spicy)
- ¼ cup of green onions, chopped
- 1½ tablespoon sesame oil
- 2 teaspoons toasted sesame seeds
- Greens and Vegetables
- 1½ cups of each - perilla leaf, green lettuce, arugula, spinach, or any three greens
- ¼ cup red bell pepper, thinly sliced
- ¼ cup carrots, thinly sliced
- ¼ cup cucumber, thinly sliced
- Acorn jelly
- Mix the acorn starch and water together. Pour the mixture into a medium sized pot and stir over medium heat until it bubbles, about 7-8 minutes. Lower the heat and stir another 5 minutes, until pudding-like in consistency.
- Pour the mixture into a rectangular container and let it sit in the fridge for 2-5 hours, until firm.
- Combine all the ingredients in a bowl, except the sesame seeds.
- Greens and Vegetables
- Chop all greens and vegetables, place in a bowl, set aside.
- Combine the dressing, chopped greens and vegetables in a bowl.
- Remove jelly from fridge. Turn jelly container onto a cutting board. Cut 12- 2 inch pieces. Divided the the pieces among 4 plates, top with salad and garnish with toasted sesame seeds.
Do ahead: all steps can be done one day ahead, combine greens and dressing when serving.