I went to Mungyeong in Korea to learn more about omija, my favorite berries. I’ve been putting about 1 teaspoon omija in my green smoothie every morning for a while.
In English they are known as Schisandra berries or five flavor berries because they taste sour, salty, sweet, spicy, and bitter. Yes, all five tastes in each berry! Mungyeong county is where most of the Korean omija is grown, and I went to an omija farm to see how they grow them.
This recipe is for a refreshing omija punch with pear and noodles. A lot of people like omija for their many health benefits but in Korea we’ve long made punch from them, because the ice cold punch really quenches your thirst, and with pear (or peach) and honey, it makes a nice dessert. The mung bean jelly noodles make it more delicious and give it a pleasurable texture, making it fun to drink and chew, kind of like aloe gel.
Fresh omija is hard to find outside of Korea, especially out of season, but you can find it dried in Korean grocery stores or at Amazon. The farm that I visited said they will be exporting their omija drinks and berries to America soon.
Serves 6 to 8
- 1 ounce (28 grams) dried omija (about ¼ cup)
- 6 cups cold water
- 1 cup honey
- 1½ cup ice cubes
- 1 Korean pear (or anjou, bosc pear)
- 2 tablespoons pine nuts, tips removed
For the jelly noodles:
- 1 cup water
- 2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon mung bean starch
- ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
- Put the dried omija and water in a glass jar. Cover and soak for 24 hours.
- Strain it over a large bowl or another glass jar.
- Add the honey and stir well with a wooden spoon until the honey is totally dissolved.
Make jelly noodles:
- Combine 1 cup water and the mung bean starch in a small, thick-bottomed pan. Stir well with a wooden spoon.
- Heat it up and cook for 4 to 5 minutes, stirring with the wooden spoon until the jelly turns translucent and starts to bubble. Remove from the heat.
- Pour the jelly into a glass container. Let it cool down for 2 to 3 hours, until the jelly is totally solid.
- Run a knife in between the jelly and the four walls of the container, loosening the jelly enough so you can turn the container upside down and easily slide the jelly out in one piece.
- Cut the jelly into tiny cubes.
- Peel the pear and cut into slices about ¼ inch thick. Cut the slices into bite size pieces or use a vegetable or cookie cutter to punch out some fun shape.
- Ladle about 1 cup punch to a bowl. Add 3 to 4 ice cubes, about 3 tablespoons of jelly cubes, and 4 to 5 pear slices. Stir it gently to make it cool.
- Sprinkle with several pine nuts and serve with a spoon.