The leaves of the plant locally known as murut (Barnardia japonica) emerge from the soil in spring. They are green, up to 30 cm long, narrow, and have a pointed tip. After the spring, the leaves start receding and the flowers, which are usually purple, appear in summer.
Murut grows best in sunny areas, such as ditch banks or paddies, where water is present. Villagers pick the leaves of this plant in early spring: The first leaf sprouts are harvested to be served raw in salads. Since murut is slightly toxic, the mature leaves are boiled in rice cooking water. The leaves are also preserved in a mixture with doenjang, a fermented soybean paste. After fermenting, this mixture is eaten on its own. The roots and leaves are cooked with malt to make a sort of syrup. All the ingredients are cooked for several hours in a pot over low heat, until the mixture attains the desired consistency.
The traditional knowledge regarding the harvesting and cooking of this wild plant is disappearing among members of the younger generations, who are more intrigued by other nutritional trends. Rising winter temperatures also have a negative impact on murut’s natural habitat.