I would like to introduce a traditional way to eat kiku, chrysanthemum in Japan. It has a little bit sweetness and very fresh taste. Only small portion is served as a side dish and great with sake as well.
My mother-in-law describes herself crazy about learning Indian cuisine and one day she taught me that Indian people eat morning glory. Morning glory grows in Japan but I never encountered it as food. Like my mother-in-law, I also found it very interesting to see people in a different culture eat some plants that we never recognized as food.
She is like a professor when it comes to recipes. She collects many cook books, understands and practices. (I like that because I can borrow her books. ;p )
Ok, let’s begin.
Take some petal to taste. It’s eatable but sort of bitter. This is what I always do to taste the raw material if it is eatable before start cooking. Then I can plan how long to cook and how much to put seasonings. Recipes are supposed to be always correct, but modifications are needed when you have more bitter chrysanthemum than what the recipe provider had, for example.
When I tried to cook a Japanese dish that uses ginger while I was in Venezuela, I added as much ginger as what the recipe said, then it turned out way too spicy. This happened because I used Japanese recipe but with Venezuelan ginger. Oh Ginger in Venezuela has very strong taste. I suppose it is a good thing, but it would be better if I know how strong it is.
Here I took every part apart to examine the taste of the flower. Some people say you can use the whole flower, some say to use just the petal. I don’t have an answer so let’s taste it and decide, right? The sepal, the green part of the flower, was the most bitter. I was not sure if I should include it since I like bitter vegetables, but at the end, I decided not to use them.
This rice vinegar is a fancy one. How fancy? It tastes simple and mild. The ingredients are only rice, sake kasu, sake lees (which is used in making vinegar, and in pickling or preserving food), and alcohol.
Kiku no Su no Mono, Vinegared chrysanthemum
- chrysanthemum 320g
- rice vinegar 80ml
- brown sugar 30g (If you have sweetened soy sauce or rice vinegar that are sold in the U.S., use less sugar. )
- soy sauce 15ml
- Wash the flower with water.
- Take the sepal and the stamen away from the flower and leave only the petal. The sepal and the stamen taste bitter.
- Soak the flower into the water for 15 mins so the bitterness will be reduced.
- Add the flower into the boiling water and cook for 5 mins.
- Drain the hot water and wash it with cool running water to chill and to add some stiffness to it.
- Drain and squeeze the water off the flower very well.
- Mix the seasonings very well. Especially it takes a little effort for the brown sugar to melt.
- Add the seasonings into the flower and mix.