Not quite a chipmunk, but can I still like acorns?

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Any of you who have had direct contact with me may have wondered a bit about the email address. I know that when I have to give out out for various reasons, people seem to be unable to actually wrap their heads around it:

“Chip…monk…what? Huh? Not a monk? OH! Chip-munk – chipmunk, like the animal! Right…so…chipmonk…sorry, chipMUNK…sneeeeze? Sneeze? They sneeze? Okaaaaaaaaaay…so, chipmunksneeze…”

You get the gist.

Though I hear my dog sneeze every now and then (usually after he’s stuck his entire head into his water bowl for some utterly unknown reason), I’ve never been in a position to actually hear a chipmunk let rip with one. So, you may ask, what’s with the email address?

Warning – this video is rather loud and may take you by surprise, so make sure the volume isn’t too high…

And yes, this is the sound of my sneeze. A sneeze that has brought many a movie theatre, restaurant, cafe, library and lecture hall to a complete and utter halt before its inhabitants pissed themselves laughing whilst I wanted to crawl under a table and die.

And no, I can’t sneeze like a regular person. As far as I can remember, I never have.

I’d go so far as to say that in addition to the sneeze, there’s a slight ‘chipmunky-ness’ to my appearance…

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Ellie vs a chipmunk
Personally, I think the resemblance is rather uncanny…

This apparent resemblance to this nut-lovin mammal may have something to do with the fact that I love anything that comes out of a shell. There’s something about the satisfying ‘crack’ as you bust apart that tough exterior to the delicious interior – whether it be walnut, almonds, chestnut or crab…

Yeah, I know regular chipmunks don’t eat crab, but *this* little mammal happens to love ‘em!

Anyway, one encased nut which my furry compadre and I both love, but is highly underrated in human food consumption is the acorn.

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There is, of course, a reason that acorns aren’t more widespread in their use in our food, and the reason for that is the high levels of tannins found in them. What’s wrong with tannins? I mean, wine has them, as coffee and some teas…and all three are delicious! While this is true, tannins are somewhat dangerous for us due to the fact that they can rob the body’s absorption of important minerals such as calcium (hallo brittle bones and osteoporosis) and iron (anyone eager for a little anaemia?).

While this sounds pretty icky, there are a few cultures that have managed to find ways to rid acorns of their icky icky tannin situation. One such method stems from Korea – oak trees have always been plentiful on the peninsula, and the abundance of acorns made Koreans try and discover a method of using these as a food source. The harvested acorns are turned into a paste and through many turns of rinsing and sieving, the tannins and fibres are leeched out till just the acorn starch remains.

As for what to do with the starch, why, turn it into jelly of course!

Whilst the jelly itself is quite simple, it is also unfortunately rather flavourless aside from a very slight bitterness from the raw acorn powder. This is why it is generally eaten in a salad-type dish such as this, with a few chopped vegetables and a spicy sauce over the lot. It makes for a wonderfully cooling summer dish, and my mother believes that anyone watching their weight should give this a try as though it is quite filling, it doesn’t leave you weighed down, is fairly low in calories and tastes a helluva lot better than those nasty diet shakes that one of my friends loves so much!

So there you have it! An acorn recipe from the chipmunk of food bloggers – so what are you waiting for? You should go give it a try!

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Dotori Mook Muchim
(Acorn Jelly Salad)

Acorn Jelly Ingredients
1 cup acorn starch (found in any Korean grocery store – ask for dotori ggaru)
5 cups cold water
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp olive oil

1. Take a 30cm x 20cm deep glass/ceramic dish (like a lasagna dish) and oil it well, then set aside. Pour acorn starch and water into a large, heavy-bottomed pot over medium heat and begin to whisk briskly and continuously for about 10-15 minutes, or till the mixture turns dark brown and thickens quite substantially.

2. Add the salt and olive oil and continue to whisk for another 2-3 minutes to make sure it is well-combined.

3. Put the lid half over the pot (wedge it up with the whisk if need be) and reduce the heat to low and leave it to bubble and cook for 5 minutes. Give it a quick stir then leave again for another 10 minutes.

4. Turn off the heat and pour the liquid jelly into the oiled dish and leave till it is completely cool and solid.

5. Slice into thin pieces and use in the following salad.

Acorn Jelly Salad Ingredients (serves 3-4)
1/2 quantity of acorn jelly (from above recipe)

Your choice of crunchy vegetables:

  • 1 cucumber, julienned
  • 1 carrot, grated
  • 1/2 bell pepper (red or green), deseeded & finely sliced

or

1 cup ripe kimchi, diced

1-2 sheets toasted nori sheets

3 tbsp light soy sauce
1-2 tsp gochuggaru (Ground red pepper)
2-3 cloves garlic, crushed
1 tbsp sesame oil
1 tbsp toasted sesame seeds
1 tbsp caster sugar

1. Mix together the sliced acorn jelly with the vegetables/kimchi and place onto a dish. Crumble the toasted nori sheets over the top.

2. Pour the soy sauce with the gochuggaru, garlic, sesame oil, sesame seeds and caster sugar into a small container and shake till the sugar has dissolved and everything is mixed up. Pour as much as you’d like over the salad, then serve and enjoy :)

(Note - we get lazy so we generally only mix the soy, sugar and sesame together for a quick dressing if we’re making a salad, and forego the dressing altogether if we’re mixing it with kimchi and the ‘juice’ from the kimchi provides ample flavour!)

[tags]Korean cuisine, chipmunks, recipes, Asian food, acorns, jelly, savoury, vegetarian, vegan[/tags]

Comments

  1. At the Santa Barbara Botanical Garden last year, we were waiting under an oak tree for the tour to start, and I mentioned to the tour guide that Koreans harvest and prepare acorns. Surprisingly, the tour guide said that the local Chumash Indians harvest and prepare acorns in a similar way.

  2. This sounds sick but I am totally jelous of girls with the “Cute” sneezes like you.

  3. @Susie – I’ve heard that too :) but I think they turn the acorn meal into bread rather than jelly?

    @Chelsea – LOL! Honey, it’s nothing to be jealous of…you don’t know the pain of wanting to hide after having brought an entire cinema or restaurant to a halt with a sneeze like mine :)

  4. I gave in to curiosity at a local Asian market and bought a bag of acorn starch (without any idea of what to do with it :roll: ). Thanks for recipe :smile:

  5. @Tovie – My pleasure. I hope you enjoy the recipe :)

  6. Chipmunks are the cutest and so are you. I made hot beverages with white oak acorns from my yard and have sprinkled roasted dechaffed acorns on different dishes. I suppose they could be carmelized with brown sugar and used as a topping for baked sweet potato or salad.

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