Edible chrysanthemum with black sesame sauce 春菊の黒ごま和え

japanese cake

Edible chrysanthemum or “shungiku” 春菊 is one of my wife’s favorite Japanese vegetables. We even grew some from the seeds for few years.  The harvest, however was was quite meager and the plants frequently got leggy consisting mostly of stalks with few leaves so we stopped growing it. Only sporadically, do I see fresh shungiku at the Japanese grocery store. This green is usually used in “Sukiyaki“. My wife, however, gets quite creative with it, claiming that “shungiku in not just for sukiyaki any more.” She shocked several of my Japanese friends by using it as lettuce in a salad…”but it is never eaten this way in Japan”, they exclaimed. My wife asked, “why not?”

I bought shungiku last weekend but did not have a chance to prepare it. Rather than let them go waste, I decided to make this simple dish.

Shungiku: This started out as a good sized bunch but once cooked, like spinach, it reduced tremendously. I first cut off the largest stalks on the bottom and blanched the bunch in salted boiling water for about 1 minute and immediately shocked it in ice water. Using paper towels, I wrapped the shungiku and squeezed out any excess moisture as much as I could. I then wrapped the shungiku in nori sheet to make a cylindar. I sliced the cylindar into 4 pieces (2 pieces per serving as you can see above).

Black sesame sauce: This is exactly as I posted before. I used black sesame paste from the pouch (2 tbs), sugar (1 tsp), soy sauce (1-2 tbs), if needed, sake or mirin to adjust the consistency.

The flavor of shungiku is very unique. It is not spinach and really taste like “chrysanthemum”. This is rather healthy but quick good dish. Next time, when I get fresh shungiku, I have to make sukiyaki–unless my wife comes up with something else first.

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