Korean Spring Cabbage Salad
Every country has its own salad that welcomes season of spring. I remember when there was a spring cabbage salad on our dinner table at my house in Korea, it gave me a warm feeling, even as a child, that spring finally has come. Spring creates a sense of hope and excitement. As a child I did not like the winter at all. It was windy and dreary, too cold to play hide and seek, or other games outside.
When the weather gets warm many young girls in our neighborhood used to get together to go an expedition on the famous Nam-mang mount in my hometown of Tong Young. We looked for spring flowers, herbs, and other edible plants to take home with us to surprise our mothers. We did not have any fancy toys like iPod, or Nintendo in the late 70th when we were growing up, but the nature was our best toys and I still believe it is to any children these days.
This spring cabbage and wild garlic salad is a sign of spring in Korea. The sweet and tender spring cabbage balances so well with slightly bitter and peppery wild garlic in spicy tangy dressing. Tasting this salad always reminds me of my childhood yearning of spring.
Well, I guess I am getting a little sentimental now. So before I begin sniffing my nose (for some reason I tend to be emotional whenever I think of my hometown), let’s get to work.
This is the Korean Spring cabbage (봄동, Bom-dong). Quite short and flat, huh! If you go to Korean stores in early March through April, you might be lucky enough to grab some of these guys. It is only available in early spring so don’t miss out the chance!
I want to call him “Jack”. Jack is very tender and sweet. He can be served as salads or in soups or stews. You can even stir fry him.
This is a “Jill”, 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 Jack and wash them clean in running water. Drain and set aside.
Jill is a stubborn girl with an attitude. Let me teach you how to train a stubborn girl. Grab her legs first, turn her upside down, and shake her hair in the water. This will remove some dirt. She will be submissive after that. Am I too cruel?
NOTE : Do not attempt this to real human!
Now you gotta give her some sympathy after all the shaking fight by submerging her in the water to wash. Rinse and drain well.
Cut Jack like this,
Cut Jill like that,
and put them together.
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 Jack and Jill. 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.
Jack and Jill went into the kitchen to fetch a bowl of salad. Jack fell down, broke his crown and Jill came tumbling after.
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 spring cabbage salad (Bomdong)
- 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.