With only seven weeks left in Korea, I thought I’d want to stuff my face with as much kimchi as possible. And while I’m getting my daily fill of fermented cabbage, all I can think of is American food.
Well, let me clarify. I’m not sitting around daydreaming of Big Macs and french fries. I’m thinking about caesar salads. Enchiladas. Medjool dates. Goat cheese. Greek yogurt drizzled with honey. Hummus with warm pita. I could go on, but I’m writing this at a coffee shop, and I’m drooling. People are starting to stare.
My point: You can’t find these things in Korea. There’s no lunch cafe serving salads and sandwiches down the street. The variety of cheese consists of processed cheese squares and string cheese. And yogurt is sold as a sugary sweet liquid in milk cartons.
So in order to satisfy at least one of my cravings, I turned to my friend Amanda Mohlenhoff. Since she’s been living in Seoul as a vegetarian for two years, I knew she’d have a few tricks up her sleeves for making some killer hummus. And since she’s a whiz in the kitchen, I knew she’d offer a recipe that didn’t require a hike to the foreign food market for canned chick peas.
She not only delivered, but gave me a recipe that will be a staple for future house parties. Substituting pumpkin (a Korean hobak) for chick peas was not only convenient, but it allowed for a creamier, slightly sweeter version of my beloved Mediterranean spread. Enjoy!
1 pumpkin (Korean hobak), peeled and steamed (For those living outside Korea, a small pumpkin or canned pumpkin should work fine)
2 TBSP tahini, or 5-6 TBSP of sesame seeds, crushed
2 TBSP soy sauce
1-2 cloves garlic
3 TBSP olive oil*
2 TBSP cumin powder
Juice of one lemon, or to taste
Salt to taste
Crushed red pepper to taste
Cool the steamed pumpkin and put it in a blender (or you can just mash it up). Puree the pumpkin, garlic, tahini and oil in batches until smooth and creamy. Transfer to a bowl and add the soy sauce, lemon juice, salt, cumin and red pepper.
You can also add chopped green gochu peppers (the Korean jalapeños) for extra spice, or a chopped scallion or two for more onion flavor. *The more oil you add, the thinner and creamier it will get.
You can probably guess that this recipe is very flexible. Feel free to play around with seasonings and measurements to fit your taste.