Aruncus dioicus, which is commonly called samnamul in Korean, is said to have three tastes of fatsia, ginseng and meat, and its proper Korean name is nungaeseungma. It is said to have a texture similar to meat and the effects of saponin are better than that of ginseng. Samnamul is gaining popularity as spring-time herbs together with alpine leek and fatsia and it is a wellbeing food that has been receiving a great deal of interest lately. Samnamul begins to bud in the early spring when the snow begins to melt. Samnamul is a perennial that increases the number of buds every year, and it grows well in the wild, and the head becomes big and full in just a year or two.
Samnamul (aruncus dioicus) is used for detoxification, tonsillitis, hemostasis and tonics in oriental medicine. It is rich in saponin, salicylaldehyde, sporin, lipids, beta carotene, calcium, vitamin A, etc. and prevents adult diseases, helps blood circulation, and helps with the prevention and treatment of cerebral infarction, brain diseases, and myocardial infarction. Samnamul is normally eaten by parboiling young shoots and spiced with red pepper paste or stored for consumption later by drying. There is a large samnamul field in Hwacheon, and the Hwacheon samnamul grown in the clean natural environment here tastes better than others.
Samnamul looks rough as it is as thick as an adult’s finger, but when cooked, it becomes crisp and soft, offering a taste different from that of fatsia. The mild scent of fatsia and the slightly bitter taste is quite impressive. Samnamulbap, which is prepared by cooking rice in a hot pot together with samnamul, pine nuts, gingko, shiitake mushroom and jujube, is obviously a healthy meal. It is a healthy food appropriate for today’s age of wellbeing and it is a representative dish of Hwacheon that most tourists in Hwacheon make sure to taste.