Yukgaejang (Korean Beef Stew with Fiddleheads)


Gosari is the Korean term for dried fernbrake - or fiddleheads - the tightly curled new fronds of the common Bracken Fern.

Fiddleheads have been prepared and eaten on several continents for hundreds, or perhaps thousands, of years. But there are some precautions you should take with it.

Within bracken fern lurks a substance called ptalquiloside. It’s a known carcinogen, and therefore, NOT our friend, but because it is 1) water-soluable, and 2) breaks down in warmer temperatures, steps can be taken to greatly reduce the levels of this harmful stuff in your hard-earned harvest.

First, you should soak the fiddleheads in cold water for several hours, changing the water often. Second, at some point in the preparation process you should boil bracken fern in salted water for 30 minutes or longer, making it both tender and safer for consumption.

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That said, I encourage you to do your research and decide yourself what your comfort level with this is. I’m told that different fern varieties, such as the Lady Fern, contain less or even no ptalquiloside, so perhaps you could educate yourself and use only those types if there is lingering concern.

Kimmy and I harvest the traditional Bracken Fern, soak it, dehydrate it, store it in air-tight baggies and for months following, boil to reconstitute and then use and enjoy it in dishes like Bibimbap (Rice Topped with Vegetables) and Yukgaejang (Beef Stew with Vegetables.)

I’m going to share her recipe for Yukgaejang with you. We enjoy it so much and I think you will find it an enjoyable way to celebrate your adventurous experience!

Korean Yukgaejang


  • 2 Tablespoons sesame oil

  • 2 Tablespoons gochugaru (red chili pepper flakes)

  • 1/2 large yellow onion

  • 2 Tablespoons minced garlic

  • 1 cup rehydrated gosari

  • 8-10 cups beef broth 

  • 8 ounces Korean radish,  cut into chunks

  • 3 shiitake mushrooms, sliced (other mushroom varieties may also be used.)

  • 1 teaspoon (or more) gochujang ( chili pepper paste)

  • 1 teaspoon doenjang (fermented soybean paste)

  • 2 tablespoons guk ganjang  (soup soy sauce)

  • 2 bunches scallions, sliced

  • salt and pepper


  1. Place dried gosari into a small pot and cover with water. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat and boil for 30 minutes or longer.

  2. Rinse in cold water, drain and cut into 3-4 inch lengths. Set Aside.

  3. Put 2 tablespoons of sesame oil on the bottom of a large stock pot, heat and add the gochugaru chili pepper flakes. Cook over medium-high heat until the oil begins to turn red from the pepper flakes, turn down to medium then add the onion and garlic; saute until the onion is translucent. Do not burn the chili flakes.

  4. Add the gochujang chili pepper paste, and doenjang soybean paste to mixture. (More or less chili paste can be used to create desired level of spice.)

  5. Add beef broth, shredded beef, radish, mushrooms, gosari (fiddleheads,) and guk ganjang soup soy sauce. Stir to combine.

  6. Boil over medium heat, covered, for 20 minutes.

  7. Add scallions and boil for another 10 minutes.

  8. Season with 1 teaspoon salt (or more) and pepper to taste.

  9. Serve with rice.

Dried and packaged gosari is readily available at Korean markets and since you’ll probably be making a trip to one for several of the ingredients, you could elect to skip the harvesting expedition and go right to making and enjoying this dish!

A Berry Good Day!


There is a little gravel pathway near my studio that is flanked along one side by the back of the city's stables, where the mounted police keep their horses, and on the other by a woodland; a large patch of green towering trees and low brambling undergrowth.

I often walk this short foot path to stretch my legs and get some fresh air after a long recording session. It's maybe only 50-60 yards long and opens to an expansive park with couple of different play areas, a neighborhood P-patch, fields planted with wildflowers, paved sidewalks, and a large wooded area with trails for exploring nature right in the middle of the city. The city scape can be seen by peering beyond, but it is easy to forget where you are and imagine yourself in a forest primeval once you're under the shade of the large copse of Douglas Fir.

The other day after only a few steps onto the gravel, I noticed a plethora of berries growing along the wooded side.  Forever the forager (thank you Mom) I did less stretching of the legs and more stretching of the arms as I reached for sweet morsel after sweet morsel.


I saw first the little wild blackberries, native to the Pacific Northwest, and favored by my Grandpa Luke. These are smaller and not as abundant as the more ubiquitous Himalayan blackberry that was brought here as a cultivar and now dominates the berry scene. The little dewberry, as it's also called, trails gently along the ground and packs a powerful punch. Oh the memories I have of hunting this little gem down, pail in one hand, picking with the other! It was a chore to get enough for a pie, but boy was it worth it!


Next, I was really surprised and delighted to find a rare wild raspberry cane; I've only come across them once or twice out hiking or camping, and here they were in a city park! They look and taste just like the ones you're used to seeing in the grocery aisles, but perhaps just a bit sweeter on the tongue because the thrill of finding them makes your tastebuds stand up and applaud!


I also happened upon some thimble berries, deep red and velvety. It's not really my favorite because of the texture, I think, but others love it, and I appreciate the bright red color, next to the green, green leaves. Speaking of leaves, the thimble berry grows on a thornless bush with wide soft, velvety smooth leaves. The plant seems to invite you in as an honored guest and serves you up the best portion it has to offer. I gladly accepted it's hospitality!

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A salmon berry hung just above my head; it was a later hanger-on'er,. Like some of the guest at an outdoor bbq on a warm summer night, this one was just having too much fun. It didn't realize that the shin-dig was over quite some time ago. I helped it on it's way by picking and eating it on the spot!


And lastly a single red huckleberry. It was a early arrival, and as welcome as the friend that comes before the cook out to help you clean the grill and set out the paper plates and napkins! I also, uh, embraced, this bright little morsel with a friendly hug. 

It took me as long to reach the park on this day, than it normally does to make a full circuitous route, but I was happy, finger stained, and most definitely re-energized! 

Are you a berry-hound? Where do you pick, what's your favorite? As always, I love it when you write to me at! We all have things we can share with others to spark conversation, warm memories, and new connections!

I hope, as you read this, you too are having a berry good day! With much love and the Lords blessings,

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