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Wild thistle rice served in hot pot

I had a great lunch date with my beloved cousin this afternoon.  My cousin is a brand new mother of almost-hundred-days old baby girl.  It has been hard for her to get out of her apartment, but today she has spared some time for me as the baby is being looked after by grandmother.

My cousin and her parents live close to Say Department Store in central Daejeon.  She suggested that we go for a hansik (한식: Korean food) restaurant in the mall as I love Korean foods.  The place is called Pulipchae Hansang (풀잎채 한상), literally meaning “a table full of wild grass”.  As the name suggests, the menu features many vegetarian dishes that are considered healthy Korean meal – just like gondraebap (곤드레밥: wild thistle rice) that is one of my favorite.

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All-vegetarian side dishes

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Gondrae is one of the wild herbs that you can find in mountains of Korea.  Just like many other seasonal herbs, gondrae is now being cultivated and is available regardless of the weather.  Steam the herb together with rice to make gondrae rice, then add a bit of soy sauce seasoning and mix up the rice like a bibimbap.  So simple yet so delicious.  Back in Canada, I had a bag of dried gondrae at home and would often make gondrae rice whenever I feel like eating healthier.

At Pulipchae Hansang, I liked the fact that they serve the rice in an individual hot pot.  Take the rice out of the pot and pour hot water to make nurungji (누룽지: rice soup made with overcooked rice crusts).  The meal includes several vegetarian side dishes and dwenjang chigae (fermented bean soup) which is all so good for your body.