Thursday, January 5, 2012

Things to Know Before Cooking Gosari

In New England, one of the surest signs of spring's arrival is a plate of steaming fiddleheads, the immature sprouts of the ostrich fern. They're a delicately flavored vegetable, often compared to asparagus or the youngest and choicest of green beans. In other parts of the world, including the Pacific Northwest, shoots of the bracken fern are used in the same way. Bracken fern shoots are a much-loved vegetable in Korean cooking, where they're known as gosari or kosari. These are bracken fern shoots harvested in springtime, then dried for later use.

Reconstituting Gosari

Gosari are unimpressive in their dried state, resembling nothing more than a handful of dried twigs. Soak them overnight in cold water to begin the rehydration process. The next day, drain the water from the soaked gosari and put them in a pot with fresh, cold water. Bring them to a boil, and simmer gently until they are tender when bitten. This might take as little as 10 to 15 minutes, but it can also require up to an hour. Bracken ferns contain a heat-sensitive toxin, so it's important that they be fully cooked.


Gosari-Namul, sometimes translated as gosari salad, is a popular Korean side dish. Resembling a plate of dark-colored noodles, it goes well with meat or vegetable entrees. To prepare it, heat oil in a wok, then stir-fry the soaked and drained gosari with garlic, scallions, soy sauce and sesame oil; top with a sprinkling of sesame seeds.


Gosari are also an integral part of one of the most famous dishes in Korean cuisine, bibimbap. This dish consists of a variety of vegetables stir-fried quickly and served over rice, with a portion of seasoned beef and a fiery pepper sauce. The gosari are prepared in much the same way as they are for gosari-namul, then arranged on top of the rice with julienned carrots, onions, green onions and zucchini.

Spicy Beef Soup

Once soaked and simmered, gosari can be used in many dishes as a vegetable. One such dish is a cold-weather soup of shredded beef brisket and gosari in a spicy broth, called yookgaejang in Korean. Simmer tough beef brisket until it's fork-tender, creating a beef broth in the process. Take the brisket from the pot and shred it, then toss it with a paste of dried chilies, ginger, garlic, soy sauce and black pepper. Return the spiced brisket to the pot and simmer for 20 minutes, then add the gosari and serve once they're warm.

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