Tuesday, May 01, 2007


Sansai Vegetables

We all know that a wave of cherry blossoms breaks across Japan come spring. But this isn't the only plant of note which blooms with new flowers. Spring brings many new plants and sprouts, a good many of which are edible.

If you are out somewhere in Tohoku, you might catch a scene like this; ordinary folk out picking edible plants which are considered a delicacy.

My new favorite sansai, or mountain vegetable, is fuki no to, known to the west as the Butterbur sprout, or, as my mother taught me, sweet colt's foot.

The shoots first come up as snow is melting away, and appears bright gold, due to a lack of chlorophyll.

Our favorite family way to eat fuki no to is to serve it as tempura. The best shoots are very young with the buds barely open. I would describe the flavor as rich and just slightly bitter, sort of like an artichoke. On the train across Tohoku, I kept looking at the shoots while thinking, "If only I could get out and go picking! Those look so good!"

You can of course find fuki no to for sale in some stores. But it's so much satisfying to harvest your own.

First posted on Japundit.

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