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Hello. I am Benjamin and we’re on the tasty trail in Korea.
Today I want to show you something which is very important in Korean food which is called namul
Namul are vegetables prepared as side dishes.
Usually they are picked up in the country side, of course,
as we can see we’re still in Seoul.
Before going further, I want to show you first what is namul
Dishes from Korea’s nature!
Namul, the basic side dish of Korean cuisine
Okay, finding my in the maze of the basement of this huge hotel
And here we are in the kitchen, and this is the chef.
Hello Mr. Jang
Hello, welcome
Very nice to meet you
And thank you for welcoming us in your kitchen.
Yes, I’m very happy, too.
I’m very excited to introduce Korean cuisine to you today.
So now we have in front of us all the ingredients for the namul
which are all these side dishes made from different vegetable.
What namul (seasoned vegetable dish) have you prepared for today?
Today we’re going to make seasoned deodeok (Korean mountain herb), seasoned dang-gui (Chinese angelica root),
seasoned chwinamul (Korean leafy vegetable) and seasoned chamnamul (dropwort).
I left out some ingredients, such as garlic and green onion, because some foreigners feel these are too strong in taste.
Why do foreigners dislike such ingredients?
That’s the first time for me to hear that someone can hate manul, garlic
do you hate garlic? I don’t think so
We love garlic.
Some like it, but some don’t like the strong smell
and taste of these ingredients in traditional Korean dishes
I think that’s a prejudice.
So the difference between what we call the namul and other kind of dishes
specially the ones called jjangacchi or the kimchi is that the namul are not fermented.
We can eat right away, almost directly after cooking
and that’s what we’re going to do. We’re going to taste.
thank you. Mm. I love it.
Mm.. That’s something you cannot really communicate through the camera
But the flavorˇ it’s difficult to compare to anything else.
So I’m a little bit speechless in front of this taste.
I think that’s one of beauties of the namul in general and Korean cuisine.
With something quite simple
With a spoon of white rice and some vegetables
You can have some very complex and unique experience in terms of senses.
So you see, cuisine is not always about complicated techniques and
fancy equipments and incredible ingredients
It’s also about knowing how to cultivate the simplicity.
And that’s what I like about namul. The simplicity.
Namul, a staple of Korean cuisine!
Various dishes are created from simple and easy recipes.
Let’s go to Jeongsun
It’s one of my favorite places in Korea.
It’s in the deep deep mountain area in Gangwon province.
And look at that . We start to arrive in Gangwondo
I love the trains in Korea
Like this one, the old trains, they are very comfortable
And they go through very special, remote areas that are usually cannot be reached by car
So, it's always very interesting
slow, but very interesting way to travel in Korea.
Jeongseon, a place surrounded with high and deep mountains
Jeongseon Marketplace
The biggest farmer’s market in Korea, Jeongseon Market is a 5-day market that opens on every 2nd, 7th, 12th, 17th, 22nd
and 27th of the month. Majorly herbs and greens from the mountains of Gangwon Province are sold
Here we are, in the market of Jeongsun
Jeongsun is a very famous market in all of Korea which opens every 5 days.
And you can shop for a lot of different things, like, here we have, um, teas. But you have also roots, you have medicinal plants, and herbs,
here for example, these are the namul, but dried namul
these one are plants that you can eat
But you have like in this shop a lot of different herbs and plants used mostly as medicine
But in Korea the line between medicine and food is very ambiguous.
So we’ll come back to that problem later
But just to show you here in this area we have a lot of things coming from the mountains and the forest
But everything can be eaten or taken as medicine.
So that’s the namul paradise.
Jeongseon Meokja Golmok (Eatery Alley)
An alley within Jeongseon Market filled with restaurants specializing in namul
This is the meokjagolmok, that’s the food stalls alley
very famous in the market,
famous for what, the gondrebap
So I’m going to show you this specialty. The gondrebap
Gondre bap (rice with thistle plant)
A specialty of Jeongseon, gondre bap is rice cooked with thistle plant.
It has a clean taste with unique aroma and is rich in nutrients.
This is the gondre bap.
So it’ rice, the bab, mixed with gondre
What is gondre
It’s a plant, fr0om the mountains of Korea.
We don’t have an English name for that one.
So you add to your taste, a little bit of soy sauce.
It’s a simple dish.
But in a spoon you have all the flavors of the wild forests of the Gangwondo
Jeongseon, a place with high mountains and deep valleys
Here we are, in the famous aurage
This is a place in Gangwon province
which is famous for the two streams here which meets to make the south branch of the han river which go through seoul.
This is a beautiful area in the dip valleys, and I think it’s a good place to start research of our trip to look for the namul
Namul, the basics of Korean cuisine from the nature
Look at that,
You already know that this is my favorite kind of meal
The simple and the best kind of meal we can have in Korea for me
because it’s diversity, and beauty on the table.
We have the soup, the rice,
but more important today we have all these side dishes based on namul
And that's not all we have also,
a specialist, the health care food specialist with us today who’s going to help us understand what we’re eating here today.
I see a lot of doraji (Chinese bellflower plant)-based food here.
This one here is made with red hot chili pepper paste.
This one here is just blanched, I guess.
What kind of doraji namul is this?
Do you just eat uncooked doraji by itself?
This namul is parboiled and seasoned doraji namul.
And this one is kimchi, water kimchi of yeolmu is with young radish leaves,
the bellflower root inside of it.
I think a lot of Koreans eat doraji, I see that this region is the major producer of it.
Could you explain a little about doraji?
There’s inulin in doraji, which helps prevent cancer.
Koreans often eat doraji when they have a bad cough because it is an effective cough remedy.
What is this chwinamul over here?
This chwinamul here is produced in Gangwon Province.
Koreans love the aroma of chwinamul.
It has a healing effect for blood clots.
It is effective for those with blood circulation problems.
So here we have, this chwinamul which is this one has been blanched, dried, then blanched again with the seasonings
or sauted, it depends on the recipe.
But I’ve heard that here you have it in a form of jjangacchi
Here’s chwinamul jangajji (preserves).
Which one is that? This one, or that one?
Yes. This is gomchi jangajji.
Okay, so that’s the one that I really like, especially as a jjangacchi
So jjangacchi is something I’d like to take some minutes to explain.
It’s really important in Korean food I think.
Jjangacchi is the way to preserve food.
It’s a kind of jang
It’s a way to preserve the food for many months, sometimes for many years.
I love jangajji, but people tell me I shouldn’t eat food of a salty food.
Is it unhealthful to eat too much jangajji, since it is a salty food?
Yes. You should eat jangajji in moderation.
Normally, jangajji is salty.
We talk often about healthful dishes nowadays,
and it’s important to note that you shouldn’t eat too much salty food.
So if you eat jangajji in moderation with rice, there shouldn’t be any problem.
So you’re saying balanced meals are very important, right?
And that’s what I like very much about this kind of table.
ou have the choice. You have a lot of elements
So naturally you’re going to pick here and there
and you’re going to make a balance in your body with these good elements
So, as usual, don’t overdo with one dish.
You know, even if you like it, make a balance.
And that’s what’s going to bring the effect, the good effect on you
Once again, food is not like going to the doctor
If you eat, it’s not for medicine
But food can be a medicine if you have a good balance
and if you respect this kind of balance on the table.
A blessed natural environment!
Jeongseon, a place with thick forests and clean water
I wanted show you that the namul it’s not only in the deep forest. Yet you can find it of course.
you can find it in this area, between the field and the forest.
So here we are with Mr. Kim
Hello, Mr. Kim.
Mr. Kim is a farmer in the area,
he’s a very good specialist actually with all the namul the medicinal plants growing in the forest.
So we came together because he’s going to help us a lot.
People who don’t know well about herbs think these are just weeds, right?
But in fact, these are all edible. Is this correct?
That’s right.
People take these often as weeds.
But my mother sees these as wild namul.
A doctor of traditional Korean medicine would see these as medicinal plants.
So it’s quite interesting
Look at that for example, here we have
This is gobi (namul), right?
Yes. It is gobi (namul).
That’s eagle fern
Fern that we eat at the beginning of the spring. We harvest it
we dry it, after, we can boil it, and saute and it’s absolutely delicious.
We sawˇ I saw, something, ah maybe it’s furtherˇ Ah, it’s here. This one.
Is that red flower danggui?
Yes. That is traditional Korean danggui.
Oh, so that’s Korean danggui. Something which is special to Korea.
And it’s something we eat as well. It’s very good., very fragrant.
It’s a type of Korean angelica.
You can eat this as namul, right?
You can eat it as namul. The root is used as medicine.
Okay, and the roots can be eaten as medicine in Korean traditional medicine
And the leaves, ah, very nice fragrance,
the leaves when they are smaller, this one is a little big, can be eaten as namul
So this is a typical namul.
Ah, what else.
Is there another edible plant?
Here it is. This is gondre. It’s a common edible plant.
Okay, So that’s the gondre
The igularia of this area that we dry,
and later, after blanching, we can saute and eat it with rice, gondre bap
So that’s the leaves.
There’s a lot of ssuk (mugwort), right?
Look at that here.
We have the mugwort. In Korean it’s ssook.
In the spring, you can eat the sprout or use it to make medicine.
So you can understand the difference between yakcho
Yakcho it’s a kind of plant which is used as medicine.
And the namul, it can as well be used as medicine but it’s mainly something you eat as a side dish or as a vegetable.
So it’s quit different.
Because yakcho, properly speaking, is not something which is for the food.
What’s this one? It looks like a thistle flower.
It’s called oipul (burnet). Oipul.
Mm.. it’s called the cucumber plant
because the small leaves when eaten it has the taste of cucumber.
So it’s a little bit late, you have to eat the new buds, in spring
and after when it’s big it’s used as medicine, once again
So you see, you did just what, 20 meters,
and we have like dozens of plants that you can eat if you know them
Let’s go deeper in the forest and we’ll see much more.
What are the white flowers over there?
It is called gung-gung-ee. Gung-gung-ee.
Do you eat those as well?
Yes. You can eat it as namul. The roots are used as herbal medicine.
Ohˇˇ there are poison ivy here.
That plant can be eaten as namul or as a medicinal plant as well.
Oh, that’s something which is interesting.
It’s not at all a namul, it’s more like a fruit.
It’s the kiwi, Korean kiwi, darae
Ah, but we don’t have fruits now. I think
but it’s the ancestor of the kiwi.
And we eat it also, though it’s not super sweet.
But there is something much more interesting over there.
The samanul, I don’t know if there are much at this time of the year.
The wild garlic has changed in color already.
The sprout appeared in April, when there was still snow. Now it has turned its color.
Okay, so that’s the end of the season, you see.
If we translate, it’s a mountain garlic.
It’s a garlic, a wild garlic, which is absolutely delicious if you eat the leaves of it.
This one with a flower is a kind of chwinamul.
That’s also a kind of chwinamul
The leaves look similar to maple (danpung) leaves, so it’s called danpungchwi. was really nice I learned a lot of things,
and I hope you understood that in the forest, you have thousands of plants,
but you have no weeds. Almost
all the plants or herbs can be eaten or can be used for something
Something you have to remember when you have a walk in the countryside or in the forest,
everything have to be protected or preserved
That’s one of the lessons from the namul
Namul, Korean dish that resembles the nature of Korea
Namul goes back to the origin of the human diet.
In the past, our ancestors didn’t have the choice but to gather, to forage their food in the mountains, the planes,
wherever their nomadic lives led them
Of course it changed a lot, but in Korea it kept that tradition,
partly because many people couldn’t’ afford to eat rice or meat or expensive and rare foods, especially during the winter.
Nowadays it’s changed, of course. The slow food, and all this movement,
we want more vegetarian diet
We want to eat more food with this good nutrient coming directly from the nature
So that’s why nowadays we’re more interested in the namul and in a diet including a lot of vegetables.
So it’s the perfect time for namul
And I’d like you to come with me. We’re going to eat one of this delicious dish called sanche namul bibimbap
Okay, let’s see.
This is a very famous place for the sanche
Sanche are the vegetables from the mountains.
So it’s very similar concept to the namul, actually
Oh, beautiful table
Look at that. Wow
We have a lot here. Of the sanche namul
Sanche means the vegetable from the mountains. So it’s very specific.
Anyway, there are a lot of different shoots and leaves and roots
and here I have what we call the bibimbap
You know the bibimbap
That’s such a very famous Korean dish
bibimbap, bibida, that’s a verb which means to mix in a way.
So you mix the food in a bowl.
You have the rice of course, the gochujang, the red hot chili pepper paste, the sesame oil,
and you put in the bowl all the vegetable that you like.
So first I’m going to put the rice
So let’s not forget that this kind of food in Korea still very important as long and deep roots in Korean history
Ah one of them is the necessity. The necessity brought by the special climate of Korea
Korea is a very cold country with a very harsh winter
and it needs to have a way to find its food during that long period of time where nothing grows outside
So that’s why namul which can be dried and preserved in many ways were so important.
In Korea we have also the Buddhist tradition.
Where mostly cereals, beans, grains, and of course the namul and the sanche, and the yakcho,
and all the vegetables, plant, herbs growing in the mountains where you find the Buddhist temples
o I think that Buddhist tradition was also very important in influencing the namul tradition in Korea
So we shouldn’t forget that. And there of course more reasons. I mentioned that nowadays
we have the slow food and well-being trends which make the people much more conscious about their health,
The way they are eating, and turning back to the diet focusing on the vegetables.
Perfect seasoning. Perfect seasoning. Mmˇ
We came to today to the heart of the heart of KOREA the gangwon province
to explain to you the heart of Korean cuisine, which is the namul
You understand the namul. It’s the vegetable served as the side dish, but it’s more than that.
It could be a medicinal food.
Actually, it’s the food that gives you the energy of the mountains,
and also, the energy of the spring, the energy of Korea
I’ll meet you next time on our next tasty trail with Benjamin.
See you, bye-bye.

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