Happy Chuseok everyone! Chuseok, also known as the Mid Autumn Festival, is a Korean Thanksgiving day where family members gather together to exchange gifts and eat delicious Korean food.
The origins of Chuseok can be traced back to Korea’s past as an agrarian society. Chuseok is also known as Hangawi, which means the 15th day of August, according to the lunar calendar.
On this day, a full harvest moon appeared in the sky and families gathered to enjoy time together and give thanks to their ancestors for the plentiful harvest. The women of the family also prepared an ancestral memorial ceremony called charye by filling a table with food including newly harvested rice and fruit.
Koreans celebrate Chuseok by making special foods, particularly a certain kind of rice cake called songpyeon. Songpyeon is made with finely ground new rice and the dough is kneaded into small round shapes and filled with sesame seeds, chestnuts, red beans, or other similar ingredients. The rice cakes are arranged upon layers of pine needles as they are steamed, filling the home with the delicate and fresh fragrance of autumn.
A traditional Chuseok practice is the formal Charye services which is a memorial service held for ancestors where traditional Korean dishes made from freshly harvested ingredients are prepared and offered to the family's ancestors. This is a way of paying respect and honouring the legacy of the ancestors.
Another Chuseok tradition in modern-day Korea is gift giving. During Chuseok, Koreans express their appreciation and gratitude for one another through lavish gift packages which are commonly filled with anything from food to toiletries. Some of the most popular gift sets are fruits, ginseng, shampoo, soap, spam and high-grade cuts of beef.
With Chuseok approaching soon, remember to share the time with your loved ones and eat some delicious food to capture the essence of this Korean holiday.
Japchae is a popular Korean dish that is enjoyed during Chuseok. This healthy noodle dish is made with glass noodles, well seasoned meat and a variety of colourful vegetables.
220g sweet potato noodles
1 1/2 tablespoons oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 small onion, thinly sliced
3-4 fresh shiitake mushrooms, sliced
1 small carrot, cut into thin strips
1 stalk scallion, cut into 1-inch lengths
1/2 tablespoon sesame oil
salt to taste
1 teaspoon toasted white sesame
Cook the sweet potato noodles in a large pot of boiling water for about 5 minutes. Drain the water and rinse the noodles under cold running water. Cut the noodles using a pair of scissors into about 6-inch lengths. Set aside.
Heat up a pot of water and bring it to boil. Blanch the spinach until they are wilted, about 1 minute. Drain the water and rinse the spinach under cold running water. Form the spinach into a ball and squeeze it to discard the remaining water. Cut the spinach ball into half.
Heat up the oil in a skillet or wok and add the garlic, onion, mushroom, and carrot and cook for about two minutes. Add the scallion and stir-fry for another minute. Turn the heat to low and add the noodles and spinach into the skillet or wok, follow by the sesame oil, the Sauce, and salt to taste. Stir to combine well. Dish out, sprinkle with the sesame seeds, and served at room temperature.