Market: Hankook Supermarket
City: Sunnyvale, CA

My parents and I shopped at Hankook Supermarket yesterday. Hankook has many trays of side dishes (banchan) for you to scoop into plastic containers, to be weighed at the cashier. We scooped a few to try but among the ones we got, this was the most interesting because we’ve never had it before. It’s not chewy, but it’s somewhat hard and crunchy.

doraji muchim

Doraji muchim (도라지무침) – spicy bellflower root.

Aeri’s Kitchen has a nice explanation of the name:

• doraji (도라지) = Bellflower root
• moochim (무침) = Name for one way to cook. Used for fresh or boiled vegetable Korean side dishes. Simply mix vegetables with seasonings.

Here’s a bit of info about doraji (도라지), from Maangchi:

Doraji (known as “bellflower,” “balloon flower,” or platycodon in English) is grown wild in the mountains and fields of Korea. The root of the bellflower looks similar to ginseng root and tastes bitter with strong ginseng-like smell. It’s not only used to make delicious side dishes but it’s also used in Korean traditional medicine and home remedies.

You can make this dish with either fresh or dried doraji root. If you get fresh doraji, you’ll have to peel it and split it lengthwise into bite sized strips. Then soak the strips in salty water for a couple of hours, drain the water, rub them by hand, and rinse in cold water. Repeat this until they aren’t so bitter anymore. Taste a small sample of the root to test.

Dried doraji sold in a package is more convenient for making doraji side dishes because all you need to do is to soak the roots in water and rub them with a little salt to remove the bitterness. Then you can make delicious side dishes by mixing them with seasoning sauce, stir-frying, or making pancakes with them.

This side dish is also a type of namul (나물); here’s some info from Wikipedia:

Namul is a general term for a Korean seasoned vegetable dish. The name of the dish may vary slightly depending on what vegetables are used and how they are prepared, but they will nonetheless still be a type of namul.

Virtually any type of vegetable, herb, or green can be used, and the dish include roots, leaves, stems, seeds, sprouts, petals, and fruits. They can be prepared as a single type of namul, or they can be mixed. Although most of the vegetables are blanched before being seasoned, the method of preparation can also vary; they may be served fresh (raw), or boiled, fried, sautéed, fermented, dried, or steamed. Seasonings can also vary. Namul can be seasoned with salt, vinegar, sesame oil, and even gochujang (Korean red pepper paste). Namul are typically served as banchan (a side dish accompanying the main course). It is possible to have more than one type of namul served as a banchan at a single meal.