It’s not a well-known fact that tangpyeongchae (탕평채, mung bean jelly salad) is a traditional food for Ipchun (입춘), the first day of spring. The roots are more historical than cultural: About 200 years ago, King Yeongjo (the 21st king of Joseon) gathered the warring political factions in his kingdom and instituted a policy of non-bias (蕩蕩平平, tangtang pyeongpyeong). The dish served on that day, which also happened to be Ipchun, became known as tangpyeongchae. Because the jelly is smooth and clear, and also because the five cardinal colors are represented in the dish, it symbolized harmony and peace.
This recipe is very common preparation of tangpyeongchae. It’s usually served as a main dish or one course amongst several. Make sure to dress the ingredients right before serving: If you let it sit too long, liquid will start to pool at the bottom!
300g cheongpo-muk (청포 묵, mung bean jelly)
(to season: a pinch of salt and a drizzle of sesame oil)
100g beef, top round
(to marinate: 2 tsp soy sauce, 1tsp sugar, ½ tbsp minced scallion, ½ tsp minced garlic, ½ tsp ground roasted sesame seed, ⅛ tsp ground black pepper, ½ tsp sesame oil)
100g mung bean sprouts (heads and tails trimmed)
50g minari (Korean water parsley)
¼ red chilli
1 large sheet of gim (dried seaweed/nori)
½ tbsp vegetable oil
For the vinegar soy sauce:
1 tbsp yangjo ganjang (wheat-based soy sauce)
2 tbsp brown rice vinegar or makgeolli vinegar
1 tbsp sugar
1 tsp ground roasted sesame
1. Julienne mungbean jelly into thin strips (7cm x 0.5cm)
2. Julienne beef into thin strips (5cm x 0.3cm) and marinate
3. Trim and discard the minari leaves, keeping and rinsing the stems
4. Make the jidan (지단, egg garnish) and cut them into thin strips (4cm x 0.3cm).
5. Cut red chilli in half and remove the seeds and pith. Julienne them into strips (3cm x 0.3cm).
1. Blanch mung bean jelly until it goes from white opaque to translucent. Drain and season with salt and sesame oil.
2. Blanch mung bean sprouts. Drain and squeeze out any excess moisture.
3. Blanch minari stems and cut into 5cm pieces.
4. Sauté beef until all juices are absorbed.
5. Roast gim lightly and crush in a plastic bag until you have small pieces.
6. Place all the ingredients in a mixing bowl and dress with the vinegar soy sauce. Toss well and serve immediately.