Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Alien Ingredient #19: Shungiku/Tung Ho

Shungiku (Japanese) or Tung Ho (Chinese) is an edible chrysanthemum leaf, Chrysanthemum coronarium. While I've read about it in my Asian cookbooks, I have never seen it in person before and honestly, wasn't too excited about trying it. My experiences with other members of the Chrysanthemum family have led me to conclude that I really don't like the smelly, Artemisia-like leaves at all.

To my pleasant surprise, the so-called Garland Chrysanthemum leaves taste just fine, sort of a cross between celery leaf and parsley leaf. Cooked, the flavor is milder, more at spinach. So I can gladly report that they taste just fine in salads, in stir fries, as well as in their traditional role in soups (nabemono).

In the western culinary lexicon, if you think of shungiku as a drop-in replacement for spinach, albeit with more flavor, you will understand its potential.

Vote: yep, just fine; another useful green to have in one's arsenal.

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