Home is where the hummus is
Ask a foreigner what foods they miss from home and you’ll hear a crazy myriad of responses, some things totally predictable (pizza) and some things totally weird (cream of wheat). I’ve heard people say they’d give up their right eyeball for a bowl of Kraft macaroni and cheese or a nice, thick slice of grainy bread slathered with Marmite. How about bagels or root beer or Cinnamon Toast Crunch? Poutine? Maybe a big plate of proper Mexican food?
Despite the diversity of expat drool-worthy cravings, there is often a thread of sameness throughout the odd requests. Something comforting, something familiar...something like hummus. It seems to me that more people are longing for hummus than anything else – the lemony kick, the creamy coolness, the heartiness of beans and seeds that, when whipped into a frenzy, create pure, buttery bliss. I want hummus on salad greens, with brown rice and squash, or just dumped over my face, thank you very much.
The problem with hummus, though, is that it’s not readily available in package form, and even if you are lucky enough to find it, you may have to drop 10,000 won for less than 1 cup of the magic bean sauce (and you’ll probably eat that entire teeny package in the span of five minutes). So, in order to make your hummus dreams come true, to pour it over everything for the next three days, you need to bounce into the kitchen and get crackin’. Happily for you and your freeloading friends, ingredients for hummus are easy to come by, cheap, and a cinch to throw together with only a blender and an appetite.
This recipe starts with homemade tahini, buzzed up and then combined with the other ingredients, no need to wash the blender. It also calls for just a smidgen of prep the day before and some extra time spent boiling beans. You can get around this step by picking up canned beans. But really, if you’ve got the time, home-boiled beans taste better, cost less, and give you a far greater quantity of hummus fixin’s than cans can provide. And you know what? You don’t even have to limit yourself to garbanzos! You can make hummus out of any bean, from pinto to cannellini to navy to whatever looks cool, all of which are available in dried form at any of the foreign markets. So, go for it. Grab a sack and get boiling.
I usually boil up half the package and store the extra cooked beans in the fridge (well hello, burritos!), but if hummus is your only interest, go with less. No matter how big a bean party you’re throwing, you’ll need to soak the dried beans first. In a big bowl, cover the dry beans with water, leaving about 5-7 cm of water at the top to allow for expansion. Then put the bowl in the fridge to soak. In the morning, as the sun rises and your mind is swimming with thoughts of hummus, drain out the soaking water and give the beans a good rinse.
Put the soaked beans in your largest pot, cover with fresh water, then drop down a lid and crank up the heat. Once the water is boiling, lower the flame and simmer uncovered for at least an hour or until the beans are soft, adding more water occasionally if needed. Depending on what type of bean you’re using, it may take up to two hours (garbanzos typically cook in 90 minutes or so), so go ahead and busy yourself while the pot is simmering. Your bathroom could use a scrub.
After they’re cooked, drain off any excess water and gather the rest of your hummus ingredients while the beans cool off a bit. Break out the blender! Hummus! It’s happening!
Combine sesame seeds and water in the blender and blitz until smooth, adding an extra splash of water if the mixture gets too thick. Scrape down the sides thoroughly. Then, toss in the remaining ingredients and blend again. Buzzzzzz for at least one full minute, scraping the sides occasionally and adding water a tablespoon at a time as needed, until the hummus is whipped and lovely. Add salt and pepper to taste.
About the author
Shelley DeWees worked as a vegan chef for a Buddhist monastery before moving to Seoul. She is a columnist for Groove Korea. Her opinions do not neccesarily reflect those the magazine. See her website, www.seoulveggiekitchen.com. — Ed.