This year we were a bit late in harvesting myoga (myouga) ミョウガ. The area of our backyard where the myoga is growing is solidly in the domain of mosquitoes and requires some resolve and protective gear on our part to enter their territory without paying inordinate “blood tribute” (literally). Usually, my wife bravely volunteers for the task but that was slow in coming this year (I do not blame her). This year, we kept postponing the harvest until my wife pointed out she could see little white flowers surrounding some of the myoga plants (meaning that the myoga, which is best used before it flowers, was moving past its prime). So, one weekend we donned protective clothing and together we harvested the myoga. Of course, my wife is a much better myoga harvester than I am (it is not easy to find the myoga buds that have not yet-flowered since they are buried below the surface of the soil and the soil can be almost hard as rock). Many of the ones we (especially “I”) found had already blossomed. In previous years we discarded those. This year, however, my wife advised that once we had suited up and were scrabbling with our noses in the dirt we should retrieve every myoga we could find regardless of its condition and we could sort them out later. As we sorted through our haul we realized that even if the myoga has blossomed, we could eat it as long as the bud was still solid; once the bud becomes “hollow” or soft, it can not be used. Since we usually discarded the myoga with blooms, we never really paid any attention to how the flowers might be used. Although the flowers generally wilt quickly, this year we had more flowers than usual and many of them had just opened so we decided to eat them rather than discard them.
Here I used myoga flower to garnish my cold simmered vegetables. This time the cold veggies included daikon, carrots, renkon (lotus root) and konnyaku (devil’s tongue). I garnished it with blanched haricoverts and myoga flower.
Here are two flowers open from a single bud.
We removed the flowers and washed them in cold water.
The below are “good” myoga before blossoming.
The myoga flowers are usually not available in stores even in Japan since they are very perishable and probably not worth harvesting or selling. The flowers do have a nice ethereal quality. They have a distinctive myoga taste but are very delicate in texture without the somewhat hard or fibrous texture of the buds. They may also be slightly bitter. They can be used as a garnish or just eaten as a part of a salad.