Korean Bomdong Cabbage Salad
In every country, there is a salad that welcomes the season of spring. I remember when my family in Korea would serve spring cabbage salad, it gave me a warm feeling even as a child, signaling that spring had finally arrived.
Spring creates a sense of hope and excitement, especially after a long, dreary winter that made it difficult to play outside.
When the weather would warm up, the girls in our neighborhood would go on expeditions to the famous Nam-mang mount in my hometown of Tong Young. We would search for spring flowers, herbs, and edible plants to take home and surprise our mothers.
In the late 70s, we didn’t have fancy toys like iPods or Nintendos, but we found joy in the beauty of nature. I still believe that nature is the best toy for children today.
In Korea, spring cabbage and wild garlic salad is a popular dish that signifies the arrival of spring. The sweet and tender cabbage balances perfectly with the slightly bitter and peppery wild garlic in a spicy and tangy dressing.
Tasting this salad always takes me back to my childhood and my yearning for the arrival of spring.
What is Bomdong?
Have you ever heard of Bomdong? It’s actually the Korean name for Spring cabbage (봄동), which is a type of cabbage that is short and flat in shape.
If you visit Korean stores from early March through April, you might be lucky enough to find some of this delicious cabbage. Keep in mind that it’s only available during early spring, so be sure not to miss out on the chance to try it!
Korean Wild Garlic
This is the wild garlic (달래, Dal-lae). Thin and tall like I used to be! (?) Jill is peppery and slightly bitter, kinda taste like Arugula. You will only need 1/3 of the bunch in this recipe. She will add nice balance to the salad.
Tear off the leaves from bomdong and wash them clean in running water. Drain and set aside.
Rinse wild garlic in the water to remove any trapped dirts. Rinse and drain well.
Slice bomdong cabbage and wild garlic.
Put them together in a mixing bowl.
Now these guys are for dressing. Plum extract (thick plum syrup. They call it plum tea because you can mix with hot water and drink like tea), Fish sauce, vinegar, sesame seeds(roasted), sesame oil, Korean chili flakes, garlic, ginger, and the red chili (optional). All of them are easily found in Korean stores. If you can’t find the plum extract substitute with honey.
Combine all the ingredients to make the dressing. Mix well. I will add red chili later.
Pour dressing over the salad and add red chili if you like. Mix well with massaging motion gently so the dressing can soak into bomdong and wild garlic.
Taste it first to see if they are well seasoned. You can always adjust the amounts of each dressing ingredients as you like. A little more of this or that!
WARNING : This is a rather spicy salad. So be aware! Adjust the amount of chili flakes as you like.
Have a nice hot, popping rice ready to eat with this salad. You don’t need anything else except a cold glass of water and a few napkins, maybe?
Korean Bomdong Cabbage Salad
- Tear off the leaves from cabbage discarding any bruised or rough looking ones. clean them in the water. Clean wild garlic in the water. Cut them into desired size and place them in a mixing bowl.
- In a small bowl mix the rest of the ingredients to make dressing.
- Pour dressing over salad and toss well by gently massaging them so the dressing can soak into the cabbage. Adjust the amount of chili flakes as you like
- Serve with hot rice and a glass of cold water just in case your mouth is burning.