19 (Fri) March 2021
at Sunam Siraegi
-Seongsu, Seongdong, Seoul, Republic of Korea-
with Mom and Dad
Yuchae (유채) is rapeseed. Also pyeongji (평지). Brassica napus. The plant is one source, in addition to a few cultivars in the Brassica genus, of canola oil, which is alternatively referred to as rapeseed oil.
Until today, I had never thought about what “canola” is, even though canola oil has been my default cooking oil for decades. Recently, while studying a Swedish cookbook (see generally 12.020 Pasta and Salmon Pudding), I was curious to note that the recipes called for rapeseed oil, which I had never heard of and soon learned that it’s the same thing as canola oil – and that’s as far as I got, never bothered to look up rapeseed or canola.
Now that I think about it, other cooking oils – olive oil, sesame oil, peanut oil, coconut oil, corn oil, sunflower oil, soybean oil, grape seed oil, palm oil, etc – come from things that are commonly known.
I learned today that yuchae/pyeongji is cultivated in Korea. Typically made into namul, just like other greens: parboiled and seasoned with garlic, soy sauce, and sesame oil. Canola oil is widely available in Korea, referred to as “canola oil” or “canola yu (oil).”
According to my mother, the plant is fairly well-known but not commonly available either in markets or restaurants. She vaguely recalled encountering it sometime in her life but couldn’t remember where or when.
It was very very good. Tasting almost exactly like spinach, perhaps a tad less bitter, with thicker stems. Initially, I’d thought it was spinach until my mother look at it with a curious expression, like “Could this possibly be?…” She asked the server, who asked the manager, who asked the cook to confirm that it was indeed.
(See also FOODS.)
(See also PLACES.)