Event - Pulmuone Foods Cooking Demo
Founded in 1981 in Seoul, South Korea, Pulmuone Co. was built on Won Kyung Sun's dream to develop a farming cooperative with the first organic farm in South Korea and a store that sold organic vegetables. Fast forward a few years and a subsidiary is born as Pulmuone Wildwood Inc. (also referred to as Pulmuone Foods USA) in the United States. The US company has also split into several brands, Wildwood and Monterey Gourmet Foods, and has offices in both California and New York (headquarters are in Fullerton, CA). It was at the headquarters that I joined a group gathered to see what meals could be cooked using Pulmuone products. The chef of the evening was Executive Chef Nathaniel Nguyen of The Prince & Pantry.
"Our CEO, Dr. Young Chul Kang, places great importance on the notion of 'One Firm Spirit.' This encompasses our dedication to the company values and in giving back to the community that we serve. As a food manufacturer we realize the importance of providing high quality, nutritious food to all our consumers."Pulmuone's products are focused on adhering to the company's Natural Principles which maintain that their food is free of artificial preservatives, colors, sweeteners, and ingredients containing common toxins. The company's President, Patrick Lemoine, who has 30+ years of experience in consumer goods including with Nestle, Yoplait, Proctor & Gamble across Asia, Europe, and Americas, was very passionate in telling us about the products and what philosophy makes them different. In addition to striving to produce the best quality possible in their distributed retail items, Pulmuone also partners with Feeding America food banks and has donated more than 280,000 pounds of food since 2007. This is a business that cares about food and what people put into their bodies.
Our first course for the evening came from their Monterey Gourmet Foods line which is composed of fresh, all-natural pasta meals including pastas, dumplings, pierogi, and dough. We started with the Crispy Baked Ravioli with Onederful White Cream Dipping Sauce and Aioli Dipping Sauce (Monterey Gourmet Foods Spinach & Cheese Ravioli, Wildwood Onederful Tofu) which was a pleasant surprise. Instead of deep-frying the ravioli, Nathaniel maintained the stuffed pasta's softness with a baked crust. The sauce was deceivingly like a creamy alfredo but was made with the Onederful tofu! Using one package of that with 1-2 garlic cloves, 1/2-1 cup of soy milk/creamer, 1/4 cup grated Parmesan, 1 Tbsp lemon juice, and fresh herbs in a blender, he made the sauce creamy and rich without the fat. I liked seeing that the Spinach & Cheese Ravioli came with a "Rooted in Freshness" seal which is Pulmuone's promise that the spinach is used 7-10 days after harvest.
The next surprise came in Nathaniel's Five Cheese Ravioli with Meatless Bolognese (Monterey Gourmet Foods Five Cheese Ravioli, Wildwood Meatless Crumbles - Italian Inspired) because who would have thought that a meatless bolognese was possible? The meatless crumbles come in Italian-inspired and Mexican-inspired so they are already seasoned. He made the bolognese with sauteed diced carrot and onion (1/2 cup each), 2-3 minced garlic cloves, 1/2 cup white wine (heated until alcohol cooked off), 1/2 cup each of vegetable broth and milk, and 1 cup of crushed tomatoes in addition to the meatless crumbles. Delish.
The next product for us to try were Pulmuone's FitPatties which are all-natural chicken and vegetable protein blend patties that come fully cooked and in three flavors: Sweet Honey BBQ, Island Teriyaki, and Tangy Chipotle. As mentioned before, Pulmuone is conscious of their sourcing so they noted that their chickens are humanely raised and handled and fed a 100% vegetarian diet. The patties tout having 28% less calories, 61% less fat, and 33% more protein than other chicken patties. These were used to make Spicy Chicken Empanadas (FitPatties - Tangy Chipotle) by blending them with garlic, onion, red bell pepper, tomato sauce, cumin, and paprika before being wrapped in puff pastry. The flavor inside was great but I'd have to try them as their original patty shape before forming a full opinion. However, it's a great idea to blend these up for other uses!
To show off just how wonderful the Onederful is, we were next treated to two delicious desserts made with tofu. It was fantastic to see it used as a substitution to fattier ingredients. The first round was Lemon Custard (Wildwood Onederful Tofu) topped with macerated strawberries. The custard truly reminded me of tofu cheesecakes I've had in the past which have a gelatinous mouthfeel to them but are still rich and creamy. These cups were no different, maintaining a smooth consistency that embodied the rich feel of custard but without the fat.
The second dessert of the night was an event favorite that made everyone clamor for more - Banana Cream Pie Milkshake (Wildwood Onederful Tofu). This was a thick drink that really had the feel of a milkshake because of the frozen bananas. This was made with 4 sliced and frozen bananas, 1 package Onederful, 1 tsp vanilla extract, 2 Tbsps sugar/agave/honey, 1 tsp cinnamon, 2-4 graham crackers, and 1/4-1/2 cup soy milk/creamer. I think just having a little bit of peanut butter would have nicely tied it all together.
There are several places to find the Pulmuone products. I really liked what Chef Nathaniel was able to put out using them so anyone can definitely get creative. They're available at Kroger, Ralphs, Fred Meyer, Costco, Albertsons, and Whole Foods but not every product is at every retailer. Look them up for more info!
Photography by Minerva Thai. More to be available on Facebook.