The Korean people like to eat boiled rice wrapped in such leaves as lettuce, leopard plant, cabbage, beans, perilla, pumpkin, etc. It is a dietary custom peculiar to them, which has been carried forward through generations.
In the period of Koguryo (277 B.C.-A.D. 668), lettuce was cultivated as a vegetable and widely known even to the neigbouring countries.
According to the records of Haedongyoksa, an envoy of a neigbouring country bought lettuce seed during his visit to Koguryo and called it “Chongumchae” as he paid a high price for it.
Lettuce was so famous even in the period of Koryo that a poet of the Chinese Yuan Dynasty (1271-1368) wrote that the Koryo people ate boiled rice wrapped in lettuce, an excellent vegetable.
From olden times, the Koreans liked eating purussam (lettuce-wrapped rice) in early summer when one would lose appetite. They planted lots of lettuce in their fields, saying that purussam helps relieving the heat in summer.
The Korean people paid special attention to soybean paste when eating purussam.
According to information, soybean paste for purussam was prepared by adding well-minced beef or fish flesh and a bit of onion to it and frying it in oil.
Some locals used bean or pumpkin leaves for wrapping boiled rice.
The food was not only for summer.
The Koreans used aster and other wild vegetables in spring. In winter, on Jongwoldaeborum (the fifteenth day of the first month by the lunar calendar) in particular, they used laver, calling it pokssam or myongssam.
They ate pokssam on Jongwoldaeborum out of their desire to enjoy good luck that year.