Digging into the story of cham-namul turned out to be a case study in mistaken identities, a plant world mystery of invasion and identity theft.
10 years ago, almost 80% of strawberries grown in Korea were Japanese varieties. Today, over 80% of our strawberries are homegrown strains, representing tireless scientific work and no small degree of national pride
If saejogae is the king of clams, then bajirak (바지락) is the humble but hardy peasant, a clam as common as air.
Ssuk (쑥, pronounced “sook”) is another leafy green that heralds the arrival of spring. In English, it’s often called “mugwort” along with a group of other related species, and shares their pungent aroma and medicinal benefits.
Saejogae in English is “egg cockle,” but literally translates to “bird clam” in Korean, since the meat inside the shell resembles a bird’s beak.
Dallae is one of the harbingers of spring, a versatile bom-namul with a mild kick.
It goes without saying that the Napa cabbage (baechu) is perhaps Korea’s most well-known and beloved vegetable. But baechu has a funny-looking cousin that makes its debut in late winter and early spring.
Naengi (냉이, shepherd’s purse) is an unassuming green that’s easy to miss when it first creeps up out of the frozen earth.
Spinach has long been eaten in Korea (some accounts say it came over from China during the Three Kingdoms Period) but it’s first on record in 1577.