Lamb’s quarters grow wild and are called “Myeongaju” (명아주) in Korea, where they are foraged in the mountains and fields in the spring. You can probably guess how excited I was to see these mountain vegetables growing in Inwood Park in Manhattan! I’ve seen them in Central Park, too. So I picked some young leaves and brought them home to cook for dinner.
The best time to forage for Lamb’s quarters is in the spring. I found them in the early summer, and they were still good to eat but I could only pick the youngest leaves from the top. They are so soft in the spring you can eat the whole plant, including the stems, but by the fall the stems are so strong that Koreans make canes from them!
If foraging is too much work for you, you might be able to find them for sale at your local farmer’s market. If you can’t find them anywhere, don’t worry. Just replace the lamb’s quarters in this recipe with some other green vegetable like napa cabbage, Bok Choy, sweet potato stems, spinach, Chinese broccoli, or chards.
In this recipe I use doenjang as a key ingredient, but you could also use soy sauce. The seasoning paste in this recipe will lead to your irresistible satisfaction! Enjoy the recipe!
Ingredients (Serves 2-4):
- 10 ounces lamb’s quarters (about 300 grams): young leaves and stems
- 3 tablespoons doenjang (soybean paste)
- 1 tablespoon gochujang (hot pepper paste)
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 green onion, chopped
- 1 tablespoon sesame oil
- 1 tablespoon sesame seeds
- Boil 3 quarts of water. Blanch the lamb’s quarters for about 1 to 2 minutes, until the leaves are tender.
- Strain and rinse them in cold water a couple of times to stop them from cooking and to to remove any dirt.
- Strain and squeeze out any excess water. If the leaves and stems are too long, cut them a few times into bite-sized pieces.
- Put them into a mixing bowl and add soybean paste, hot pepper paste, garlic, green onion, and sesame oil.
- Mix by hand until all the leaves are well coated with the seasonings, and have absorbed them. You can wear disposable plastic gloves if you want.
- Sprinkle with sesame seeds and transfer to a serving plate. Serve as a side dish to rice.