Thursday, January 26, 2012

Yangjae Flower Market for Fresh Herbs



I've never had fresh herbs.  If I needed some parsley or something like that for a recipe, I'd use the bottle of dried parsley that came with the spice rack that my mom got when she first came to America twenty plus years ago.  It tasted like shaved cardboard, and apparently, you can't do that.  Dried herbs should be used within 6 months, and they should look perky and eager to be used.  Dried parsley should still be green, and cayenne pepper should be fiery red.  As I've started to cook more and more, I've slowly raised my standards on spices.  Though dried spices are better for certain kinds of recipes (i.e. ones that require long cooking times), I got sick of spatting jealously at recipes that called for fresh sprigs of this and that.


First, I started cultivating herbs from seed.  For some plants, this is painfully easy.  You really can't mess up with dill and basil especially if you get the little seed starter kits from Daiso (1,000 won).




Rosemary is infamously difficult to cultivate from seed.  It takes 3 months to friggin' germinate, and usually, it doesn't.  I still have a barren pot of soil I water every once in a while, just hoping the rosemary will sprout up one day.  When I finally went to the flower market in Yangjae, I quickly realized that it's really much easier to buy potted herbs and grow them from there, especially since they're only 2,000 won each.

Peppermint, lemon thyme, Italian flat-leaf parsley, basil, and rosemary - all 2,000 won a pot.
I walked around the entire flower market, jumping from building to building.  There's a certain lightness of step I get from being amongst so much oxygen-giving greenness and life.  It's a joy in itself to just prance around though the plants aren't too varied.  Most vendors fit into one of the following categories: orchids, green house plants, cacti, or flowers for floral arrangements.  There's one vendor specializing in dormant bulbs.  And one vendor specializing in herbs.  Bingo.






She's located inside the greenhouse situated closest to the building selling pots.  If you're coming from Yangjae Citizen's Forest Station on the new Sinbundang line, it's the greenhouse farthest from the entrance.  Inside door 4 (on the side of the building closest to the flower pot-vending building), she's the first vendor as you walk in.

Main entrance of the Yangjae Flower Market.
Door 4
She sells basil, rosemary, lemon thyme (not to be confused with thyme because it's not), arugula, italian flat-leaf parsley, peppermint, chocolate mint, pineapple mint, and lemon balm.  For cooking, the herbs of interest would be basil, rosemary, arugula (though it's really not an herb), italian flat-leaf parsley, and peppermint.  I didn't buy any arugula because if you're going to use it, you're going to use a lot, and the plants looked small, meaning I'd have to buy several of them.  The different kinds of mints and lemon balm are mostly for aromatic purposes, maybe if you make soap or something.  They don't have too many applications in cooking.  Peppermint is awesome to have around for mojitos, smoothies, minty baked goods, mint ice cream, etc.  Lemon thyme is only similar to thyme in name.  It has a great lemony scent and can be used to substitute for lemon zest.  All the small pots of plants are 2,000 won.  Such a deal.  Bigger pots are priced upwards in increments of 2,000 won.  I got a larger pot of rosemary for 4,000 won.

I wish they had cilantro, thyme, and oregano, but they don't.  She said maybe in the summer time.  I've managed to grow my own cilantro from planting the cilantro I bought at the grocery store after I chop off most of its leaves.

Before.
After.
Since then, I've grown a marvelous indoor herb garden and the plants have really taken off.  It's so amazing to have fresh herbs to throw into a dish - really brightens it up, flavor-wise and aesthetically.  I use a pack of liquid fertilizer ampules that I got for 1,000 won from Daiso.  It's to them what espresso is for me.


I'm not one with a "green thumb," and it's a small miracle that I've been able to grow such a thriving plant colony.  But honestly, it's so easy.  I google to find out how often I should water and how to trim them, and then let them green all over my kitchen.  Just the aroma from rustling my fingers through their leaves is a killer.

Look at how big they've gotten!
Peppermint (= mojitos)
Lemon thyme
Italian Flat-Leaf Parsley
Dill Monster
How to get to the Yangjae Flower Market: Take exit 4 at Yangjae Citizen's Forest Station on the Shinbundang Line (pinkish-reddish color line; the newest on the Seoul Metro).  The entrance to the market is a few feet from the exit.


If you're taking a bus, get off at aT센터 양재꽃시장 (aT Center/Yangjae Flower Market).  The following blue buses run here: 140, 405, 407, 408, 421, 440, 441, 462, 470, 471.  Two green buses stop here: 4432 and 8441.  If you're shopping at the Yangjae Costco or E-Mart, you might as well stop by because it's only a 15-minute walk away.

14 comments:

  1. This is exactly the kind of post I've been looking for. Thank you for taking the time to post it. :)

    I'm about to head out to the herb place and grab a bunch of pots to experiment in some cooking, but I was wondering how the herbs are doing so far?

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  2. I know it's bitter cold outside, but go out there and get me some more posts! More stories!

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  3. THANK YOU!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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  4. They say you can eat flowers especially roses but I haven't tried it yet.

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  5. I love seeing purple flowers. They really look delectable.

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  6. Nice blog
    http://herbalplantslanka.blogspot.com/

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  7. Did you get the dill at the market too? I am in desperate need for some! Is it easy to grow afterwards?

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  8. This comment has been removed by the author.

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