Gosari: Korean Bracken-Fern, High Nutritional Protein
Also known as bracken-fern, gosari is the young stem of fernbrake and has been eaten in Korean culture for centuries. Praised for its health benefits like being rich in vitamins, antioxidants and fiber, it is also called, “the beef of the mountains,” for its high protein content.
In Korean culture, gosari is a significant part of many diets as an essential ingredient in bibimbap, one of the most famous Korean dishes, as well as used to make soups and side dishes like gosari namul.
However, discussions have arised debating the safety of consuming the plant. Skeptics have called gosari a carcinogen, but Hank Shaw demystifies these claims in an article for The Atlantic.
Shaw explains the safety of consuming the plant is not completely clear-cut. But it is clear that a substance called ptaquiloside that is found in the plant, is the culprit for gosari’s bad reputation. However, levels of the substance greatly vary. In New Zealand, no traces of the ptaquiloside could be found in a study of gosari. That is not always the case, therefore it is difficult to know the potential danger of consuming it.
But after a broad survey of scientific research and literature, Shaw found blanched and sauteed, gosari can be consumed stress-free. Ptaquiloside is infamous for being volatile at moderate temperatures and degenerates at room temperature. Exposed to boiling temperatures, Shaw said, “The carcinogen denatures almost completely.”
The takeaway, gosari should be eaten responsibly. It should be enjoyed for its wonderful taste, which is similar to asparagus and Tuscan kale, as well as its incredible health benefits. However, always seek a medical professional’s advice if seriously concerned.
Forage for Gosari
Gosari can be grown and foraged around the world, thriving in the mountains and forest areas. If foraging, it is recommended to harvest gosari that are not fully extended and in a horseshoe bend.
In South Korean culture, foraging is a popular practice that is a great alternative to shopping at the grocery store, utilizing resources from the natural environment. However, it can be intimidating foraging for ingredients in the wild, therefore home gardens provide an opportunity to connect with nature and your food. It is hard to beat the taste and satisfaction of growing ingredients in the backyard garden for a beautiful and nutritious meal.
Asian grocery stores also carry dried or ready-to-eat (already boiled) bracken-fern. The fern provides an earthy and hearty flavor in balanced Korean recipes like bibimbap and gosari namul.
Bibimap often includes gosari, and is the quintessential bowl food, inspiring many variations. With rice as the base, the dish includes assorted vegetables and a protein source. Gosari goes terrifically with vegetables like shiitake mushrooms, bean sprouts, carrots and kimchi for a gut friendly addition.
Gosari namul is a delicious and nutritious side dish on the dinner table in many Korean households. Cooked gosari is seasoned with soy sauce, garlic and sesame oil, which also contains a bounty of benefits.