Oiseon, made with cucumber and meat.
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Seon refers to Korean traditional dishes made by steaming vegetables such as zucchinis, cucumbers, eggplants, or Napa cabbages that are stuffed with fillings. Although the term is a counterpart of jjim, dishes made by steaming meat or seafood, the concept is not clearly settled. To make a hobakseon (호박선) or oiseon (오이선), a zucchini or cucumber is cut to pieces of 4 or 5 cm in length and slit in a quarter. The pieces are briefly salted and the juice is squeezed a little. Beef or chicken and onions are chopped and mixed together with seasonings to make fillings. The prepared pieces of the zucchini or cucumber are stuffed with the fillings and placed on a pot. Seasoned stock or vegetable broth is poured over the ingredients till soaked and boiled or steamed for 5 or 10 minutes. After finished the cooking, slices of seogi (석이, Umbilicaria esculenta), chili peppers, and jidan (지단, fried eggs separated into white and yellow layers) are placed on the dish as gomyeong (고명, garnishes). Besides the dish, gajiseon (가지선, steamed eggplant), gochuseon (고추선, steamed chili pepper), donggwaseon (동과선, steamed winter melon), museon (무선, steamed daikon), baechuseon (steamed napa cabbage) and dubuseon (steamed tofu) are representative of seon dishes.
In historical cookbooks
According to a cookbook titled Eumsik dimibang written during the mid Joseon Dynasty, the historic recipe of donggwaseon (동과선), a variety of seon dishes made with dongga (winter melon) is very different from the modern one. Thick slices of a winter melon are lightly parboiled in water and then along with oil are put into a bowl of the boiled mixture of ganjang and water. After the sauce is discarded, a new bowl of boiled ganjang mixed with minced ginger is poured over the vegetables. Donggwaseon is preserved and is eaten with vinegar spread over it.
In Siui jeonseo, a cookbook written in the late 19th century, a recipe of hobakseon (호박선, zucchini seon) is similar to the modern seon dishes. A zucchini is hollowed out and filled with various condiments and steamed. A sauce made with vinegar, ganjang and honey is poured over the cooked dish and sliced chili pepper, seogi (석이 Umbilicaria esculenta), and jidan (fried eggs) are place on the zucchini and ground pine nuts are spread over it.
However, the term did not have its modern meaning as late as the 1930s; cookbooks written at that time use the term very differently—they refer to cheongeoseon (청어선, steamed herring with fillings), yangseon (양선, steamed and stuffed beef intestine), or dalgyalseon (달걀선, steamed eggs). At present, the term is generally limited to stuffed vegetable dishes.
Baechuseon, steamed and stuffed bachu (napa cabbage) roll
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