Monday, May 02, 2005

A Taste of Spring

It's almost summer around here but my set of "Haru no mikaku" Kitty plushes were made complete just little over a week ago. Although these are not part of the regional line, they are part of Asunaro-sha's limited seasonal mascots. The series, "Haru no mikaku" or "Taste of Spring" features Kitty White as four kinds of "sansai". Sansai are edible wild plants that begin to appear in the early days of spring. In this limited series, Kitty appears as tsukushi or “horsetail brush”, takenoko or "bamboo shoots", kogomi or “fiddleheads” and fukinoto or “butterbur” flower bud. The cost of some of these luscious edible treats can be quite expensive in grocery stores so many people like to hunting for these wild plants. However, some people say the hunt for these delicacies have more to do with the rituals of spring. I'd guess that fukinoto and tsukushi are the crocuses of northern Japan -- indicators that the snow will be gone soon and cherry blossoms with follow. Other than takenoko and kogomi, these spring veggies are strangers to me so I had to rely on my mom's memory and the internet to give you an idea of the tastes and uses of wild plants.

Fukinoto is the sprout of the butterbur (a flower plant from the chrysanthemum clan) has a sharp and bitter taste. It is sometimes served minced with miso dressing or as tempura. Maybe its me, but doesn't everything taste better when its dipped in batter and deep-fried?

Tsukushi is a rhizome. Sometimes served in a soup or with a simple dressing of sugar and soy sauce -- I have no idea of its flavor, but I bet if you dipped it in batter and deep-fried it...

Kogomi are the coiled-up, baby leaves of the ostrich fern. I have had a version of these spinachy-asparagusy delicacies from Maine. My mom served them with a ground sesame seed and soy sauce dressing. I loved them and they weren't even deep-fried!

Takenoko are relatively common for westerners that have eaten stir-fries. I have yet to eat a shoot that hasn't come out of a can, but I've been told they are crisp and have a mild flavor.


Post a Comment

<< Home