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Home Cooking: Chwinamul bokkeum (Sauteed aster scaber)

 In the winter, dried vegetables are a staple in Korean kitchens. Chwinamul (aster scaber) is a popular choice. It is a wild vegetable, with a bitter taste and distinct aroma, that grows in the mountains of Korea. Simply seasoned, chwinamul is delicious as a side dish or in bibimbap.

Chwinamul bokkeum (Sauteed aster scaber) (Korean Bapsang)
Chwinamul bokkeum (Sauteed aster scaber) (Korean Bapsang)

There are several ways to rehydrate dried vegetables. Some people soak dried vegetables in water for several hours and then boil them, but I like to boil them first until they are almost tender and then leave them in the water to cool until soft. It works faster this way. This recipe provides a general guideline, but the required time for boiling and soaking will greatly vary depending on the condition of the dried vegetables.


About 70 grams dried chwinamul

1 tablespoon soup soy sauce (1 teaspoon more if needed)

1 tablespoon minced garlic

1 tablespoon vegetable/canola oil

1 tablespoon sesame oil (or perilla oil)

1 teaspoon sesame seeds (or perilla seeds)

2 tablespoons chopped scallion

Place the chwinamul in a large pot filled with water two-thirds of the way. Bring it to a boil. Lower the heat to medium and continue to boil, covered, until the stem part is soft, for about 30 minutes. It doesn’t have to be completely tender at this point. Turn off the heat, and cool the chwinamul in the cooking water until it is completely cooled and softened. Drain and wash thoroughly 2 to 3 times. Gently squeeze out the excess water.

Run a knife through the chwinamul a couple of times if it is too long. In a skillet, season the chwinamul with the soup soy sauce and minced garlic. Let it stand for 10 to 20 minutes.

Saute with vegetable or canola oil for about 4-5 minutes over medium heat. You can add 2-3 tablespoons of water if it becomes dry. Stir in the sesame oil, and toss with sesame seeds and scallion before turning the heat off.

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By Ro Hyo-sun