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 Home >> Korean Cuisine >> Namul (Vegetable or wild green dishes)

Korean Basic Side Dishes, Wild Greens

There are rice and side dishes on Korean dining table. The most common and basic side dish is wild green and that is the most general food too.

Let us know how wild green became a basic side dish for Korean since Koryo period. Buddhism was the   state religion in Koryo period. At that time, several Kings prohibited the butchery, even the fishery.

More than the half of Korea is Mountains and three sides of the country is surrounded by the sea. However, Korean could not eat any meat nor fish. That is why people were searching for eatable leaves of trees and grass in the mountain as well as on the plains. They developed their own method of spicing and cooking those wild greens.

There are several tens of wild greens since early times. There are 96 different kinds of eatable wild greens and vegetables, 60 kinds of herbs in the field and 23 kinds of cultivated vegetables. Korean consume all different kinds of wild greens every seasons. Especially, a dropwort, a purslane, a plantain, a ladybell, an arrowhead and many more Korean spring greens are popular for its flavor and taste.
There are some funny names of wild greens, for instance, cowwheat, a ballad singer, an elegy, a starwort and a clown mustache.

There are several cooking methods of wild greens which are roasting, spicing, wrapping, frying and griddling. Also, adding wild greens into a soup or chowder makes tasty flavor.

Cooking methods are divided into two major parts, which are ¡°SaengChae¡± and ¡°SukChae¡±. ¡°SukChae¡± simply means slightly boiled and fried wild greens with spices. ¡°SaengChae¡± means uncooked wild greens and adding only some spices. There are certain kinds of wild greens which can be done only as ¡°SaengChae¡± since for some wild greens, boiling or cooking might spoil its texture and taste. In the other hand, there are some which can be done more than dozens of different methods of cooking.

Korean exceptionally adore number ¡®3¡¯ and the most representative Korean wild greens were also named after this superstition, ¡°Three Colors of Wild Greens¡±. This is composed by spinach, Chinese bellflower and fernbrake. As you can imagine, three different colors, green, brown and red make perfect combination. That also show the importance of number 3 among Korean.

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