Koreans have long believed that consuming fresh, seasonal foods in the spring helps them stay healthy all year. According to traditional beliefs, seasonal foods are highly nutritious. As a result, they help improve your immune system and help you stay young. Plus, when ingredients are at their peak season, they taste amazing! Throughout Korea, seasonal foods are celebrated and perhaps nothing is quite so delicious as spring ingredients.
Spring Seasonal Ingredients
Each month on the traditional calendar brings with it different food seasons. According to the traditional Korean calendar, these are the foods that are in season during spring, March, April, and May.
Mountain vegetables: Wild chives, burdock, shepherd’s purse, deodoek, Chwinamul, mugwort, bitter lettuce
Fruits: Hallabong, strawberries
Seafood: clams, cockles, snapper, conch
Mountain vegetables: Wild chives, shepherd’s purse, bitter lettuce, deodeok, chwinamul, fatsia shoots
Seafood: Clams, web-foot octopus, muscles, tuna, conch, warty seasquirts
Mountain vegetables: Chwinamul, fatsia shoots
Fruit: strawberries, green plums
Seafood: muscles, conch, tuna, seasquirts (different variety), eel, marsh snails
For more information on seasonal ingredients according to the Korean traditional calendar, and recipes Click Here.
One of the most popular traditional Korean dishes using spring seasonal ingredients is Spring Namul. Namul is a term used to describe a group of edible grasses, leaves, and sprouts that grow naturally in Korea’s mountains.
There is no one way to make spring namul, as any fresh green ingredients can be used. You might consider it the Korean version of a salad. Normally, Namul is highly pickled or marinated using a combination of sugar, soy sauce, sesame oil, and vinegar. Generally, each family will have their own recipe.
You can commonly find this dish made of seasonal ingredients as a side dish. Spring Namul is very healthy. It is filled with vitamins, and amazingly tasty.
Marinated Webfoot Octopus
Webfoot octopuses are at their plumpest and tastiest between March and May. If you don’t like octopus because of the rubbery texture, you should try it again while it is in season. The texture does change according to the time of year.
One of the best ways to eat webfoot octopus is as a marinated and stir-fried dish. The octopus is marinated in red pepper paste, and cooked along with seasonal vegetables. Then, you can wrap it in lettuce just as you would at Korean BBQ.
Webfoot octopus is particularly popular among the elderly in Korea due to its health properties. They contain two to five times more taurine than squid or octopus. Taurins aid in cholesterol reduction so it is highly recommended for those with a family history of heart problems according to traditional medicine.
I love strawberries!! While strawberries are available year-round in Korea, none are as sweet as spring strawberries.
Look no further than strawberries if you’re looking for fruit to eat during spring in Korea. Korean strawberries are extremely sweet, have a wonderful aroma, and are high in vitamin C. In fact, once you start eating them, it is difficult to resist the urge to eat the whole pack.
Additionally, you can make an entire trip out of your love for strawberries. There are many strawberry fields located just outside of Seoul where you can go and pick your own strawberries. Some farms even have cooking classes where you can make your own jam or cake.
Want to learn more about seasonal foods in Korea? Click here to read about 4 healthy summer dishes.