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The namul project

 
Kitty Leith
Posts: 143
Location: Oakland, CA
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In Korea, spring is heralded by the sight of halmonis (grandmothers) selling fresh namul (wild mountain greens) on the sidewalks. There's nothing better than fresh namul...There is a huge variety of these foraged plants and they are used in side dishes. Korean meals will have 4, 6, sometimes up to 10 side dishes, depending on how fancy the restaurant is. Royal cuisine had even more. These are highly regarded in the city because urbanites have the means to be selective about eating organic and these are almost always organic because only a couple are cultivated.

A few months ago I found a plant i.d. book on foraging for namul! Of course, it is all in Korean, and unfortunately I have failed at picking up the language. For Koreans in their 40's and older, plant identification is common knowledge, but it's quickly being lost as the youth don't even know how to fry an egg, because they are forced to study all the time. Because I only have one Korean friend with this knowledge who lives far from me, I too have to learn about this from books. I've missed the spring harvest, but it might not be too late for me to find some going to seed. As a little side project before I leave, I thought it would be good to identify them in English somehow, and for the plants one can''t obtain in America, to try and bring some seed back with me. The climate here is similar to NE United States, but I'm hoping some can grow on the west coast. I think they have great potential for edible forest gardens...

So I'd like to begin by sharing which ones I can find on the internet. I'll be using Plants For A Future's website and also posting a recipe or two. For the ones I can't find, I will scan pictures from my book and see if any of you might know what they are called in English, if there is any equivalent.

Here's one to start: Campanula Takesimana - Nakai (Korean bellflower)
The roots are an interesting texture of chewy/starchy/fibrousy, kind of like ginseng without the strong bitter taste, and have an almost sweet-potato like flavor.

Here is is in bloom:


Here are the roots: (they even look like ginseng, only without as many branches) Sometimes they are preserved in some liquid in jars, just like ginseng, for some unknown-to-me medicinal purposes.


The roots are torn into strips prior to cooking:


Here's some recipes:
mild
spicey

I have also had it fried and carmelized. It tastes great sliced and grilled.

You might be able to purchase this in Asian markets in the U.S., not sure...would be interesting to see if the North American varieties of bellflower taste the same.

Well, that was fun. Enjoy!

 
Kitty Leith
Posts: 143
Location: Oakland, CA
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Hi! Back in the U.S.

Got a little down time between jobs, so decided to pick up this project again. Only I'm storing it on Memonic.
I've found all the latin botanical names for the Korean wild foraged greens in my book, as well as the English common names if they have them, and there are quite a few available here in the States!.

So I'm slowly going to add Korean recipes for the ones that can be found here in North America. Today the list is complete and I've got one recipe for you, but I will continue to revise and add more. Enjoy!

Korean Namul
 
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