Arts Of The Working Class Logo


The process of cooking without the idea of a constructed recipe.

  • May 26 2021
    is an art collective run by visual artist/performers Bin Koh and Sumin Lee.

The etymology of the word ‘recipe’ was first recorded in late Middle English from the Latin, meaning to take and receive. Growing up in South Korea, we were not familiar with the idea of cooking with recipes. The metric measurement equivalents, ⅕ teaspoon equals 1 milliliter, 1 fluid ounce equals 30 milliliters, and 1 gallon equals 3.8 liters, all sounded very alien to us. Instead we watched our families cook by intuition, using skills collectively experienced from their childhoods and modified over time. There is no word for ‘recipe’ in Korean. It is often called a ‘cooking methodology’ or ‘the way of cooking’. So when we were organizing a performative cooking workshop called Tar for Mortar to make East Asian tea snacks called dasik, we approached our process of cooking without the idea of a constructed recipe.  

Dasik can be made from many different ingredients–mostly dried seeds and nuts–but here we are going to focus on rice, soybeans, black sesame and sweet potatoes. 

For rice dasik, use dried glutinous rice. The rice must first be rinsed in cold water, until the water runs clear. The amount of time it takes to rinse the rice varies depending on the amount of rice and the condition of the product. Next, soak the washed rice in cold water. The longer it is soaked, the finer the rice flour becomes. Once the grains of rice can be broken between the fingers without much effort, it is ready for the next step. Drain the soaked rice until water no longer falls from the sieve and spread it out thinly on a wide tray. Leave the tray out to dry in the shade. Once the top part of the rice on the tray dries, the rice should then be turned over frequently to facilitate drying. Grind the rice when you can no longer feel the water on the outside of the grain. At this point, you should be able to break it easily with your fingertips. When grinding rice, always ensure that the ground rice clumps together. Since it is still not completely dry, the ground rice flour will be spread thinly on a platter to finish drying. If you grind the rice to the point where you can feel the grain of the powder, then you will still be able to feel the unique taste and texture of rice. Therefore it is best to grind it as finely as possible, so that it becomes a good base material without disturbing the other ingredients.

For soybean dasik, rinse the soybeans in cold water to wash off impurities. Stir-fry them in a dry pan over low heat. When stir-frying beans, do not leave the pan and continuously check to make sure they do not burn. The taste of the bean flour will vary, depending on the degree and duration of the frying process. Stir-fry the beans until they are lightly browned, or to suit your taste.

For black sesame dasik, rinse the sesame seeds several times with cold water. The cleaning process of black sesame has to be quick, as the color of the black sesame's unique shell can easily wash away. Drain the washed seeds and stir-fry over medium-low heat using a dry pan. Just like in the process with soybeans, pay careful attention not to burn the seeds. The degree of roasting is difficult to check just by looking so instead listen carefully for a “snapping” sound, like a tiny pop of popcorn. When properly roasted, the scent of savory sesame seeds will fill the room. If you roast the sesame seeds too much, there will be a strong scent of sesame oil.

In case of over-roasting, the seeds are not good to use for dasik flour, but the seeds can still be used in another dish, so do not throw them away. Spread the toasted sesame seeds on a wide tray to cool. Grind the seeds a little at a time using a mortar or grinder, not a regular blender. If these steps are not followed carefully, the sesame seeds risk becoming moldy, lumpy, or hard as oil is drawn out of the seeds.

For sweet potato dasik, we use purple sweet potato, also known as purple yam, since they look pretty. Wash the sweet potatoes in cold water, peel and slice them as thinly as possible. Place the slices on a platter to dry in the sun. Flip the potato slices when the tops are dry and turn them frequently to facilitate drying. Dry the sweet potatoes until they break, crisp and sharp like potato chips–you can eat them this way as well. If you grind dried sweet potato chips in a mortar, the texture will be coarse. If using a blender, the sweetness becomes stronger. 

Once the ingredients are prepared, grind them all together each of them using a pestle and mortar until the powder becomes very fine like soft sand. Mix all the ingredients well. If it is still too sandy, add more honey. If too sticky, add more ingredients and mix well, always checking the viscosity of ingredients with your hands. If you can form a ball from the mixture using your hands, it is ready to be moulded. Use a dasik mould and shape the dough into its final form. After they are moulded, they are ready to be enjoyed with your favorite tea. 




Read this piece in print in the extrablatt FOODCULTURE days, found in the issue 16 "Food Eats the Soul", out now!

    Caique Tizzi



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