Gosari 고사리

Springtime in Korea, people forage gosari from the mountains. At that time it’s green and fresh, so it can be eaten right away. They blanch and cook it, and they dry it until it’s brown and thin as thread, and then store it for a full year until the next spring, when they can gather more.

These days most people buy gosari in grocery stores. You may find it dried, presoaked, or fresh. I always buy dried, because it will keep in my pantry for months if it has to. You’ll have to prepare it a bit before you can cook with it. If you buy vacuum-packed presoaked gosari, it’s ready to use but you need to finish it within a few days once it’s opened.

Preparing dried gosari

1 ounce (about ¼ cup) dried gosari

With a pressure cooker:

  1. Cook the gosari with three times the water for 30 minutes.
  2. Take it out and cut into bite-size pieces.

In a pot on the stove:

  1. In a large saucepan add the gosari to 10 cups of water, bring to a boil over medium-high heat, and boil for 30 minutes. Cover and let stand until cool, about 2 to 3 hours.
  2. Rinse the fernbrake a couple of times, drain and put it in a bowl. Cover with fresh cold water and let soak for at least 8 hours or overnight in a cool place, changing the water 2 or 3 times during the soaking.
  3. Taste the gosari: It should be soft. If it’s tough, boil it again in a fresh pot of water for about 30 minutes and then let it sit, covered, until soft. Drain the fernbrake and cut into bite-size pieces.

Dried Fernbrakegosaridried fernbrakedried fernbrake

Dried gosari


Soaked gosari


Gosari from North Korea, for sale in Noryangjin market, Seoul

Recipes that use fernbrake (gosari):


  1. Hazeltree United Kingdom joined 11/22 & has 1 comment

    I was wondering if you’ve ever had any leads on finding gosari in the UK?
    This is one of my favourite dishes to make, especially this time of year, and I can’t seem to find it anywhere!


  2. YeTiTiA Paris, France joined 2/21 & has 5 comments

    I did it ! Last night, I did it ! I am now ready to make some Yukgaejang tonight.
    Me and my gosari are pretty excited : my first korean recipe.
    And I wasn’t even aware before that fernbrake were something to eat…

    Thanks Maangchi !

  3. How much does 1 oz of dried gosari weigh after cooking?

    I’m making your Yukgaejang which needs 6 oz of gosari. I’m wondering how much dried gosari I need — I’m guessing much less than 6 oz.

  4. Miss Kim78 socali joined 3/13 & has 40 comments

    I totally miss going gosari picking! My family and I used to go all the time when I was a kid. We used to go around Big Bear, here in socali. We would climb up the mountains and bring huge bags to stuff all the gosari in. We even had gosari picking contests (with family friends) to see who can pick the most gosari. Fun times!

    Not too long ago, I made gosari banchan. And it was the first time having gosari in a while…making that brought back childhood memories of going up to the mountains in our RV. http://www.behgopa.com/2014/02/gosari-namul-fernbrake-side-dish-and.html

  5. isabela95 Western North Carolina joined 6/11 & has 1 comment

    Sorry I didn’t check this discussion before I tried to make some kosari with dried fernbracken I bought about a year ago.

    It had very brief instructions in English which said to boil it for 20 minutes, drain, and then soak in cold water for an hour, then mix with sesame oil, soy sauce, shiitake muishroom powder, and red pepper and stir fry.

    I had used just a small bit of it when I first bought it, then placed it in a ziploc bag.

    I had no idea how much to use so I prepared the WHOLE BAG.

    What a waste. It wasn’t softened properly and I had two HUGE bowls of it. (If I had used 20 cups of water for each cup of dried bracken I would have had to move out of my house to make room for it! :-)

  6. Francesca Port Hadlock, Washington, U.S.A. joined 3/11 & has 1 comment

    Hello, Maangchi…

    You’ve been my Teacher for about three years, but this is the first time I’ve written to ask you a question. Your instructions are so complete I’ve never had to ask one before- but this isn’t exactly about a recipe…

    Here goes!

    I’m trying to learn how to gather, process, and dry bracken for kosari… I live in Washington State and am gathering bracken for experimenting with. So far, I’ve soaked overnight (with soda), rinsed, boiled in fresh water, and put to dry about ten pounds but I have no idea if I’m doing it right.

    Can you help with the old way that Korean people handled and dried the bracken after gathering? I’m hoping you might know about this from your Mother/ Grandmother, or if not, that you might know someone else who’s willing to share the knowledge!

    There aren’t any instructions online- just a few casual references…For example, I read that in Korea the ferns were either soaked or boiled with wood ashes, but no mention of what kind, or when/why/how much to add.
    I think this was done to remove bitterness/toxins-?

    My questions are:
    1) How much of the fresh stalk can be used?
    2) Should I presoak them in cold water overnight before cooking? (With/without ashes/soda???)
    3) What’s the story with the wood ashes?
    4) Should I cut the stalks in half before soaking/cooking, or leave them whole?
    5) How long should I boil them?Is it a matter of proper texture/feel?- should they be “squishy”???
    6) I notice that dried kosari from the market is pretty thin…should I crush the thicker stalks while boiling so they’ll sort of splinter apart?

    Any help you can give will be much appreciated.

    Thanks, I hope!


    • kmsand4 United States joined 9/12 & has 1 comment

      My mother and I would always use all of the fernbrake.
      If they are already dried, we would just throw them in the pot of boiling water but you can also pre-soak them as you would with dried beans over night.
      And back in traditional times, they would use wood ashes since this also gave a slow but steady temp to dry and preserve them. My mother and I would lay them out on newspapers in a storage room and keep the door closed w/a normal room fan turned on to dry them before storing them in big black trash bags to use when we needed.
      You can either leave them whole or cut them up into bite size pieces. We actually would just leave them whole.
      And don’t crush them so that they splinter. Leave them whole.
      Enjoy the meal! :D

    • Maangchi New York City joined 8/08 & has 12,047 comments
  7. sasha philippines joined 7/11 & has 1 comment

    hi do you know how to make kosari cause here in my place in Philippines korean store is very far..I wonder if i can make kosari out from native fern growing here on my place its called “paco” or “vegetable fern” we used to eat it fresh on salad or sautéed

    • Maangchi New York City joined 8/08 & has 12,047 comments

      Check out my bibimbap recipe. https://www.maangchi.com/recipe/bibimbap I use gosari in the recipe. You can sautee it by following the direction in the recipe.
      “You can buy soaked and cooked “kosari” at a Korean grocery store. Prepare about 2 or 3 cups of kosari for this 4 servings of bibimbap. Cut it into pieces 5-7 cm long and sauté in a heated pan with 1 ts of vegetable oil. Stir and add 1 tbs of soy sauce, 1/2 tbs of sugar, and cook them for 1-2 minutes. Add sesame oil. “

  8. asian206 joined 12/10 & has 2 comments

    Hi Maangchi,
    I was wondering in the bibimbap can i use sweet potato sprout instead of fernbrake, I went to H-mart and they don’t carry fernbrake at all.

  9. Dear Maangchi,

    All of your recipes that I have tried so far have been fantastic. Thank you very much for posting everything!
    I was wondering, though– would one rehydrate the toran in the same way as the kosari?
    Thanks in advance,

  10. I boiled my kosari for about 40 minutes in the evening and then left it soaking over night. About half of it turned out quite mushy and I read elsewhere on the site that it shouldn’t be mushy, so I picked through and kept only the firmer stems. Did I boil it too long? Or maybe soaked it too long?

    • Maangchi New York City joined 8/08 & has 12,047 comments

      oh,I’m sorry to hear that it turned out mushy! You might have boiled it too long. This is my method of soaking gosari.
      1. Place kosari in cold water in a pot. 1 cup of kosari will need
      more than 20 cups of water.
      2. Boil it for 30 minutes and don’t drain hot water and let it soak. Wait about 6-8 hours.
      I usually boil it at night and drain it next morning.
      That’s it!

  11. Mareen Jakarta, Indonesia joined 7/10 & has 1 comment

    hey there =)
    if i bought the boiled kosari, the purpleish one (like the one on the last pic), can i still use it for making yuk gae jang? what should i do with it? do i have to soaked it one whole day or anything, coz i’m planning to cook straight away… thanks a lot

  12. Lisbon88 Boston, MA joined 2/10 & has 4 comments

    The fiddlehead ferns collected in Maine (USA) are Ostrich ferns or Cinnamon ferns. I’ve heard warnings of not collecting the new growth of bracken although I think that’s because it looks so much like Sweet Fern, which is not a fern at all & not edible (although wikipedia says it can be smoked :-). So Fiddleheads can actually be several different types of ferns, including bracken. The fresh Maine fiddleheads (Ostrich fern) I’ve had taste a lot like asparagus, after the tannic/bitterish paper is removed. Given the price of fresh fiddleheads in New England asparagus might be a better choice.

    I have tried to soak, then cook the dried bracken I bought at a Korean market, but after HOURS of simmering it was still tannic/bitterish & hard. Should I have changed the simmering water several times? Salted it? Done something different? I’m intrigued by the idea of cooking an unfamiliar food – especially a foraged one – but I’m not sure this one is worth trying again. I’ve had bibimbap with a little bracken as a garnish & it was good, but maybe I can substitute soaked wakame or soaked/shredded tree ears. Similar texture & flavor but much easier. ???

    • Reinier Rotterdam, The Netherlands joined 2/09 & has 101 comments

      Hi Lisbon88. You tried to soak and then cook the kosari?
      I always do it other way around.
      When i need it the next day, the evening before i:
      -Boil it for half an hour.
      -Turn off the heat and let it sit as it is on the stove overnight.
      -In the morning drain it and put in in the fridge.
      -For diner i cook it for my bibimbap

      Hope it works!

      • Lisbon88 Boston, MA joined 2/10 & has 4 comments

        Thanks for the quick response – it took me a while to try again. Your method worked beautifully. Our friends loved the bibimbap as well & now they’ve been turned on to this website!
        Looked like you had a blast doing the video with Maangchi. Thanks again Reinier.

  13. Hi Maangchi, love this website and all the information!

    We recently got a chance to sample this vegetable at a hwan-gap banquet, and I have a bit of a story aboute it. Served as a buffet item, the stems were pickled and gray (probably started like the second, brown picture). Of course we were quite surprised when what looked like handmade noodles turned out to be a vegetable! For the person asking about the flavor – prepared that way, there was not much of a distinct taste beyond the pickling, and it was more about the texture – sort of chewy-tough in a vegetable way, but not stringy om the way other chewy vegetables can be.

    Of course, after the banquet, we had to ask a friend “what was that?” When it turned out to be kosari, we got a worried look, with the explanation that it’s ‘not good for men’ and that monks eat it because it’s ‘very calming’ (subtext implied)! No ill effects were noted, despite the admonition. :)

    Now, seeing the name spelled out here, I was able to look it up on Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kosari (redirects to ‘Bracken fern’, mentioning kosari as the Korean name), and if the article can be trusted… it might not be the healthiest vegetable for other reasons: possibly linked to stomach cancer; and the reported toxicity to blood cells and presence of an enzyme that destroys vitamin B1 might explain the ‘calming’ reputation – but being ‘calmed’ by anemia or vitamin deficiency wouldn’t be good! [The article doesn’t say if any preparation methods are known to reduce the bad compounds; that would be good to research.]

    Just being alive is toxic, but having found that caution, I wanted to share it in case anyone is thinking of eating a lot of this as a “health” food.

    Anyhow, the article also explains what it is: fern stems and fiddleheads, which are also an American delicacy. I’m going to have to find out if American fiddleheads come from the same ferns and warrant the same caution, but they’re a “rare” seasonal item, so it’d be hard to overdo it (at least in the Northeast, sounds like Northwesterners might want to practice moderation?).

    • Maangchi New York City joined 8/08 & has 12,047 comments

      Interesting comments! Thank you for the good information!

      I know that some people think Kosari might be unhealthy, but Koreans have been eating it for so long it’s hard to believe.

      Here’s another interesting article I found on the subject:

    • In defense of kosari, I bought some recently after noticing that every possible food stand in Tsuruhashi (Osaka’s Koreatown) was selling fresh plastic bagfulls of it. After initially worrying about it because of this warning post and doing some research of my own, I’ve come to the conclusion that as long as you’re not eating the rolled up tips (called fiddleheads) and you’re not eating them RAW, you have very minimal chance of getting stomach cancer from it.

      None of the articles regarding the carcinogenic qualities of bracken provide any proof that it’s a direct cause of stomach cancer in humans. They can’t even seem to prove whether or not it may be linked to it. Worst I’ve seen is speculation that it may cause stomach cancer in cows (eaten raw out on the field). Not exactly damning evidence that kosari will kill you and you shouldn’t eat it. ;)

      For me personally, the most convincing proof I’ve seen that nothing’s wrong with it is that my Japanese mother-in-law, who has had stomach cancer and is also a nurse, has no problem at all with eating it. Her only advice was to make sure it’s well boiled before eating it. It’s called warabi in Japanese, btw, and folks seem to love it here, too! :)

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