8+ ways to cook with shungiku, an edible type of chrysanthemum
This humble little green is a hero in Japanese cuisine.
Words: Jenny Somervell
1. The leaves are used whole or roughly cut. They need only light cooking; overcooked leaves become bitter.
2. Leaves can be blanched, stir-fried or steamed, but only lightly. Stir-fry in a hot wok for seconds rather than minutes, as you would for spinach or bean sprouts.
3. The Japanese often blanch the leaves in boiling water for a few seconds, then plunge them into cold water to cool.
4. If adding to soups or hot pots, add at the end of cooking.
5. Young tender shoots can be eaten raw in salads, sushi, with pickles, or dipped into tempura batter and deep-fried.
7. Young tender stems can be used but may require slightly more cooking. Start cooking first, then add leaves.
8. Shungiku wilts down a lot once cooking begins. Start with considerably more than you want to end up with.
5 WAYS TO USE SHUNGIKU
Serve it Japanese-style. Blanch about 50g of leaves in boiling water for one minute, drain, rinse in cold water, then squeeze to remove excess water. Chop and serve with sesame seeds and a sesame dressing (1 tbsp tahini, 1 tsp caster sugar, 1 tbsp light soy sauce).
Add petals and young serrated leaves to a salad of baby carrots and radish.
Toss in lemon juice, sesame oil, soy sauce, toasted sesame seeds and a drizzle of honey.
Add to Vietnamese summer rolls and Korean-style wraps.
Just before serving, add to hotpot dishes or soups. A classic use is a light chicken or vegetable broth, flavoured with slices of ginger.
Stir-fry with a little sugar and a drop of wine or sherry on their own or with other vegetables, sliced meat or fish.
Stir-fried chicken with shungiku & shitake mushrooms
2 chicken breasts, cubed
1 tbsp soy sauce
6 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 red chilli
Large ‘thumb’ of fresh ginger, finely chopped
12 drops sesame oil
1 dessert spoon tamarind paste
½ cup hot water
2 tbsp oil
1 small onion, chopped
1 carrot, thinly sliced
2 courgettes, split down the middle and sliced
6 shitake mushrooms, sliced
1 handful each of fresh basil and coriander leaves
Fresh, young chrysanthemum leaves, about 2 dessert bowls, loosely packed
Marinate the chicken in the soy sauce, finely chopped garlic, chilli, ginger and 6 drops of sesame oil for half an hour. Soak the tamarind paste in the hot water, mush it up and set aside.
Heat the oil in a wok or frying pan, add the onion, carrot, courgettes and mushrooms and a few drops of sesame oil, and stir-fry for about 5 minutes.
Add the chicken pieces and marinade and stir-fry until the chicken is almost cooked. Add the tamarind paste-water mix, the chopped basil and coriander, cook for another minute or so, then add the chrysanthemum leaves. Cook until leaves are bright green and just tender (less than a minute). If using stems, cook these first, then add the leaves.
Serve with noodles or rice.
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