Using November`s IN-SEASON Vegetables – a Recipe for Edible Chrysanthemums (食用菊) and SHUNGIKU (春菊)
By Avi Landau
November is an exotic time of year for me to visit my local green-grocer here in Tsukuba. This is the season not only for wide range of mushrooms and tubers but also for leafy vegetables – and in Japan there are about ten different types besides spinach and Chinese cabbage, none of which I had heard of before coming to live here: KOMATSUNA (小松菜), CHINGENSAI (チンゲン菜), MIZUNA (水菜), WASABINA (ワサビ菜), NOZAWANA (野沢菜) and SHUNGIKU (春菊) among them. After all the years I`ve spent in this country I still haven`t learned how to tell most of these apart without reading the labels- and each autumn, in order to savor the season to the fullest, I try my hand at cooking with them.
The other day at the store, which is actually a kind of farmer`s market called the WAKU WAKU HIROBA, I was excited to find bags full of edible chrysanthemum flowers (SHOKUYO- KIKU, 食用菊) – and knew right away that I`d have to use the narrow window of opportunity in which they are available, to make something with them.
Chrysanthemum flowers have a distinctive texture and aroma, and they also look beautiful when boiled for a few seconds- especially when mixed with some of the season`s fresh greens.
I decided to combine my yellow chrysanthemum petals with the leaves and stems of another member of the chrysanthemum family, the SHUNGIKU (春菊) which is often used in SUKIYAKI and and NABE ( HOT POT) dishes in Japan. This vegetable also happens to be very rich in vitamins and minerals.
Here is a simple recipe which should provide you with surpringly tasty results.
A few edible chrysanthemums (available fresh in Japan in late October thru Mid- November)
Packet of SHUNGIKU (Garland chrysanthemum) available fresh in Japan from Nov. thru March)
Dash of vinegar
Packet of DASHI (Japanese stock)
Teaspoon of soy-sauce
Teaspoon of MIRIN (sweet cooking sake)
A pinch of salt
How to prepare:
Remove petals from a few edible chrysanthemums and set aside
Bring water to boil in a pot.
Add a dash of vinegar and salt
Put petals into boiling water for a few sconds
Remove petals, put into strainer and cool with water
Boil fresh water in a pot, add a bit of salt and put in the SHUNGIKU
Boil for about a few seconds- remove, cool with water- and then remove water
In a sauce pan combine a little water and the dashi powder to make dashi
Add soy sauce, MIRIN and a dash of salt
Heat and then let cool a bit
Put boiled petals and greens in a bowl, pour over sauce and mix
Delicious, beautiful AND healthy ! Eat as a side dish.