Sunday, September 15, 2013

Korean Inspired:
Devil's Tongue Stir Fry

Today it hit me...

Only about FIVE months until we leave Korea!! FIVE!
Wow- it's all going by so fast! We have spent most of our marriage here together, and soon we will leave.

Although we have been here 4.5 years, sometimes it still isn't easy. Korea is still, after all, a foreign culture. Language is different, logic is different, expectations are different and FOOD is DIFFERENT!

I have had a love/hate/love/hate relationship with Korean food in my past 4.5 years here. When I arrived in Korea I was SUCH a picky eater! Not such a good thing when almost every Korean dinner out looks like this-

Then, after I got past the shock, I started opening up and trying new things! "New things"= fish and MUSHROOMS! How exotic, I thought! ha! After I was starting to get along with the idea of Korea food... I converted to a vegetarian/vegan. Things changed slightly.

I'm lucky that the pre-school I teach at offers free lunch to the teachers. It's a great way to experience Korean food! Most of the food I can't eat because of the cow bones, fish broth, seafood, etc- and that's ok with me. But some days.... oh boy! SOME days, I really luck out! This was the case last Thursday. I had a delicious broccoli, mushroom and DEVIL'S TONGUE JELLY side dish!! YUM!!!

Have you ever heard of Devil's Tongue Jelly? In Korean it's called "gon yak" (곤약), in Japanese it's called "konnyaku". It comes from the root of a plant that grows in subtropical Asia- most refer to it as a potato or yam. It is for the most part, tasteless and will absorb any flavor you marinate it in! Wow- it is such a great addition to meals!

The Japanese call it "The Broom of the Stomach". It is referred to as such because of it's ability to "clean out" your colon- it's used for such in Chinese traditional medicine for this reason. This is how it made its way to Korea so very long ago.

 In addition to the high fiber content, Devil's Tongue Jelly also has starch,  protein and almost no calories because so much of it is made of water. In some studies it has been shown to normalize cholesterol, blood sugar and blood pressure! For all of these reasons, it is a very popular diet food for women in Korea. Not that I'm advocating it to be used as such!

So, I decided to give cooking with DTJ or "gon yak" a try! At the store, I was surprised to find only the white kind. If you're here in Korea, you can find it in the area where all the kimbap making supplies are. Here's what I got-

Here's my American-Korean fusion recipe. I'm calling it:

Sounds like a witch's brew! Perfect for your Halloween Dinner Party!

Ingredients for Stir fry:
  • 1/2 brick of Devil's Tongue Jelly
  • 8-12 mushrooms (depending on size)
  • 2 cups of chickpeas (garbanzo beans)
  • 1/2 of an onion, chopped
  • 1/4 cup organic Tamari (soy sauce)
  • 4 Tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 4 tablespoons coconut oil
  • 2 Tablespoons blackstrap molasses
  • 3 teaspoons sesame seeds
  • 2 cloves of garlic

Serve with soaked quinoa and spelt or other whole grain and a side of steamed broccoli.

I started by opening the bag and pouring its water out, then I rinsed it a few times until the smell was gone. You'll know what I mean when you open the bag.

Next, I cut it the package in half and cut it then into cubes.

Check out my new ceramic knife!! Woo hoo! LOVE it!

Next, I marinated the cubes in 2 TBSP of apple cider vinegar and 1/8 cup of Tamari. You could also use Soy Sauce, or Shoyu, they are all similar.

I marinated it just for a few minutes while I was preparing other things.

When I was ready to cook, I put the coconut oil, garlic and onion into the pan and cooked it for 2 minutes on medium heat.

Next, I added in the chickpeas and the other 1/8 cup of tamari and 2 TBSP of apple cider vinegar. I cooked everything for about 2 or 3 minutes.

After that, I put in the mushrooms and Devil's Tongue Jelly along with the remaining tamari in the bowl.

I let everything cook on Medium High heat until all the water started coming out and looked like this.
See how it looks bubbly?

After it starts getting like this, cook about 2 minutes more and add in the blackstrap molasses. Cook for about 5 minutes. Make sure to keep mixing as you are cooking so you can mix in the molasses. 

Here is my finished product. I served it over soaked red quinoa and spelt and topped it with sesame seeds. I also added a side of lightly steamed broccoli topped with black sesame seeds.

I didn't add the broccoli to the stir fry because I wanted to keep as much of it's nutrients intact. I've been craving broccoli, sesame, chickpeas and almonds lately. My first thought- maybe my body is needing extra Calcium right now! So, I gladly indulged. Check out the nutrition in just 1/2 of the meal. Keep in mind, this is only 1 out of 3 for the entire day! Wow!
Look at that protein, B6, Iron and Zinc! Who says the vegan diet is deficient in those things!?!? Shame!
I tracked the nutrition from
*Note: The fiber and carbs ratios on this chart may be off for my specific way of eating.
I eat a high carb diet- this is set to the standard US requirements.
So, this meal is not really 79% of my actual carb needs for the day.

I'm going to try to soak in as much Korean food as I can in my last 5 months here. I love finding new cultural foods to add to my repertoire.

Have you ever tried Devil's Tongue Jelly? What were your thoughts? Also, PLEASE let me know if you have any good recipes using it (I still have a half of a brick left)!

I'm leaving tomorrow night for Japan! We have a 5 day weekend here in Korea thanks to the Korean harvest festival (Chusok). Can't wait to hike Mt Fuji and sip some tea in Kyoto with my hubby!

Details on Japan and that new "Client Access" tab at the top coming to the blog soon- can't wait to share!

Try a new food.

Listen to your body.

Soak your grains.

Live your life,

The Empowered Way



  1. Looks good! Wish I could find the Devil's Tongue Jelly in Argentina!!

    1. Hmm... you might be able to! Have you came across any Asian Grocery stores? I bet you could ask at a Japanese restaurant where they get theirs!! hehe Good luck!

  2. Glad you're back. This tasted excellent, can't wait to have it again!

    1. I'm so happy you liked it and I'm even HAPPIER that you are FINALLY a quinoa lover! :)

  3. Meg! What a great recipe idea! I had no idea that this "Devil's Tongue" Jelly had so many nutritional benefits. One problem about living abroad is that we often cannot read the labels. If I don't know what it is or what ingredients are in it, I most likely won't buy it. I would have just walked on by the Devil's Tongue had you not informed me about it. Thank you! I look forward to making the stir fry!! You should find more hidden gems in the grocery store for us! :)

    1. I know exactly what you mean regarding reading the labels!!! Shew! I'm just happy that since Korea has been opened up to more foreigners, there is more and more information available on the culture and foods! They traditionally eat such heavy foods, I NEED the knowledge of all those green plants, herbs and teas that they have!!!!!!

      While we are gone, come over to my apartment and get the rest of my devil's tongue!!!!!!!!!!! SERIOUSLY! No one wants a rotten tongue greeting them when they come back from vacation!
      *need Kakao Talk emoticon*

  4. Very interesting. I may have to buy it next time I'm in H-Mart (Korean supermarket here in the U.S.).
    Also, I sometimes use quinoa instead of rice for my stir-try as well :)

    1. Wow! H-Mart!? How cool! Korean food uses so many roots and leaves and other things from the ground that I just have no idea about. I'm hoping to learn in these next few months. It's all so interesting. Are there lots of H-Marts?

  5. I’m always looking for new blog ideas. I know I need to try a giveaway, for sure. Will bookmark to have as a reference.

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