Green Goodness

May 12, 2008 at 4:05 pm 15 comments

chrysanthemum close up

Sometimes it’s the little things that tickle a person.  Things that make the corners of your mouth turn up just a notch and put a gleam in your eyes.  That’s what happened when Farmer Dave asked me to play around with a new crop on Weavers Way Farm.  I was tickled because it was, whether he realized it to be or not, a little pat on the back that said “Hey, you’re pretty much an expert at figuring out how to use farm produce so naturally I’d ask you to create a recipe for me.”  

chrysanthemum soup with chive blossom

This mystery ingredient, however, was completely new to me too.  Edible Chrysanthemum is known by many names (Garland Chrysanthemum, Crown Daisy, Shingiku, Choy Suy Green, Tong Ho, Ssukgat, etc.) around the world and is used mostly in Asian dishes, from what I could gather.  It is different from the ornamental mums you put out in your flower beds or deck containers each fall.  Its leaves do look similar though.  Farmer Dave was asking me to play around with the stuff since he didn’t know what to tell customers at market who asked how to use it.  Well, those customers weren’t the only ones without a clue.

sorrel

I scoured all of my cookbooks, then moved on to my recipe clippings, and finally hit up the internet and still wasn’t finding anything very useful.  I was a bit annoyed at myself because I know I’d clipped an article once upon a time with a recipe for edible chrysanthemum, but I guess it got lost along the way since I hadn’t ever found any to buy and try. 

Lacking any solid guidance, other than reading it’s generally used in soups, salads, and stir-fries, I ate some of the leaves raw to get a feel for its flavors.  I’d liken it to a slightly less bitter sorrel or a more tender and bitter chicory.  In the end, I decided soup it would be, although it made for a tasty salad addition. 

Swiss Chard

The resulting potage was quite flavorful but not something for the picky eater.  If you like earthy green flavors like seaweed, you’ll adore this soup. If you immediately scrunched up your nose when you read “seaweed”, you’ll be happier just tossing edible chrysanthemum in with some other salad greens and enjoying its mellow bite in raw form.  Another plus that shouldn’t go without mentioning is that this soup is so choked full of vitamins and minerals, you could skip your vitamin supplements for a week after eating just one bowl of this stuff. 

Edible chrysanthemumPeas

I’ll be getting another bunch of chrysanthemum next time I’m back over to the farm and I think I’ll try a stir-fry with it next time or maybe a quiche since that worked so well for sorrel.

A general word about the recipe:  I just call for bunches of each green.  I know that’s a rather vague quantity but really you can just use what you have on hand.  Or, if you can’t get the elusive edible chrysanthemum, just add extras of the others. 

Sauteing the greens 

CHRYSANTHEMUM SOUP
A Straight from the Farm Original

2 T. butter
2 T. extra virgin olive oil
2 shallots, minced
1 bunch chives
1 bunch garland (edible) chrysanthemum
1 bunch sorrel
1 bunch swiss chard
2 c. fresh or thawed frozen peas
2 c. water
3 T. heavy cream
Salt and pepper

Wash chrysanthemum leaves, sorrel and swiss chard.  Remove stems from all the greens and cut out the large rib of the swiss chard.  Roughly chop greens and the chives and set aside.

Place butter and oil in a heavy saucepan over medium heat.  When butter is melted, add the minced shallots and sauté until softened, about three minutes.  Add the greens and peas, stirring to coat with butter and oil.  Add a little salt and the water.  Cover and simmer for about 8-10 minutes, until peas are tender.

Ladle the soup into a food processor or blender, discarding a ladleful or two of the “broth”, and process until smooth.  If desired, strain processed soup before returning to the saucepan.  Over low heat, stir soup and add cream and salt and pepper to taste.  Serve garnished with chive blossoms and/or croutons. 

(serves 3-4)

 

Soup serving

Entry filed under: Purely Vegetables, Recipes. Tags: , , , , , .

Just Born! Rolling With It

15 Comments Add your own

  • 1. VegeYum Ganga  |  May 12, 2008 at 5:36 pm

    Hi Jennie, chrysanthemum is used a lot in Chinese cooking, and the flowers are used in teas. I buy it at the chinese market and put it in stir fries but I am sure that there must be other recipes for it out there somewhere. Helen from World Foodie Guide might know.

    Reply
  • 2. Wandering Chopsticks  |  May 13, 2008 at 1:33 am

    In Vietnamese recipes, I use it raw to wrap up in rice paper salad rolls. Cooked, as a green to add to hot pots, or in a light pork-broth soup. It’s called “tan o” in Vietnamese and is readily available in Asian supermarkets.

    Reply
  • 3. Jennie  |  May 13, 2008 at 5:46 am

    VegeYum – See, I thought too that there must be more recipes available for it, but there just weren’t any that I could find. I might venture to guess that its one of those ingredients that just gets thrown in and the concept of it is handed down among cooks. In any case, I’ll be sure to try the stir fry approach next. 🙂

    Wandering Chopsticks – I like the idea of it in salad rolls. I’ll mention that to some of our customers too. “Tan o”….see, that’s another new name for it that I didn’t know. Maybe there are recipes for tan o out there… 🙂 Thanks for the tips!

    Reply
  • 4. Tess  |  May 13, 2008 at 7:47 am

    Chrysanthemum leaves are called shungiku in Japanese. They are used in nabe dishes (hot pot dishes) like sukiyaki and shabu shabu. They are apparently common in the Korean version of these one-pot dishes, too–the little Korean grocery has them all the time. I just bought a Korean recipe book there: google “Korean onmyeon hot noodle dish” and there is a recipe that sounds good. Also check out page 62 for an interesting use of the leaves as a garnish.

    You can use them in a Japanese salad: parboiled and served with pan-fried tofu, with a sesame dressing. Or use them in ohitashi dishes: lightly cooked, squeezed dry and rolled into a cylinder, cut into bite-sized lengths with a dressing made of dashi, soy sauce, and mirin. If the leaves are young and tender they are good in Western style salads.

    Substitutes: spinach, turnip greens, mustard greens, watercress

    Reply
  • 5. Jennie  |  May 13, 2008 at 2:44 pm

    Wow, what a plethora of information, Tess! Thank you SO much!

    Reply
  • 6. VegeYum Ganga  |  May 14, 2008 at 4:19 am

    I can’t resist a puzzle, and I have searched out my “A Cook’s Guide to Chinese Vegetables” by Marth Dahlen. Chrysanthemum is Tong ho in Chinese. The book says “Technically, the multitudes of cultivated chrysanthemums can be reduced to two species, one that provides flowers and one that provides vegetables. Within the edible species, three varieties exist, one that the Japanese grow for leaves, one that the Chinese grow for leaves and one that the Chinese grow for flowers, used fresh to garnish snake dishes or dried in tea and herbal medicines.

    Chrysanthemum leaves have an unmistakable and somewhat resinous flavour which is best enjoyed in small quantities amongst other foods. The Cantonese respect it for its ability to warm and harmonise the stomach, which in turn warms the entire body. Hence it is served primarily in the winter with hotpots, soups and snake dishes as a means of stimulating the digestion of these rich dishes.

    Hunan Chinese sometimes stirfry tong ho as a vegetable.”

    Wonder if you have Chinese or Japanese chrysanthemum? I think you can tell by the taste. In my experience Chinese Chry. is quite strong tasting, somewhat bitter.

    Reply
  • 7. Wandering Chopsticks  |  May 14, 2008 at 2:11 pm

    Jennie,

    When I get around to it, I’ll post my recipe for canh tan o (Vietnamese chrysanthemum leaves soup). It’s just a simple light pork broth with the leaves.

    Reply
  • 8. Kirsten  |  May 14, 2008 at 4:18 pm

    Your photos are very beautiful!!! Absolutely!!!

    Reply
  • 9. gintoino  |  May 16, 2008 at 5:38 am

    Could these be the wild chrysantemus that grow everywhere around here? If thats the case I guess I will turn them into soup. What a wonderful way to get read of weeds!

    Reply
  • 10. Jennie  |  May 16, 2008 at 11:12 am

    Gintoino – I’m not sure if they would be the same as the wild ones around you… It wouldn’t hurt to try. They might not taste good though if they’re the ornamental ones. Let me ask around and see if I can find out anything more for you. 🙂

    Reply
  • 11. It Begins « Straight from the Farm  |  May 29, 2008 at 8:32 pm

    […] picked up a few more bunches of the edible chrysanthemum to try mixed in with the other salad greens I procured.  I thought the zing and tenderness of the […]

    Reply
  • 12. mercat  |  June 12, 2008 at 10:19 am

    When I lived in Japan, shungiku was my favorite vegetable. I ate it twice a day during the (all too brief) season. I have not been able to find it in the U.S., unfortunately. (Though if anyone knows of a source in the Washington DC area, please let me know!)

    I second Tess – it is marvelous ohitashi style. It’s also great in Japanese-style soups, like soba or udon. Make the noodles and broth (instant dashi and soy sauce will do), and then throw in the washed shungiku leaves and let sit about 5 minutes. That will cook them just enough, and they will flavor the broth very nicely. Then you have an easy one-pot meal.

    Reply
  • 13. Food Blog » Blog Archive » It Begins  |  June 22, 2008 at 7:07 pm

    […] picked up a few more bunches of the edible chrysanthemum to try mixed in with the other salad greens I procured.  I thought the zing and tenderness of the […]

    Reply
  • […] from Straight from the Farm mentioned crysanthemum leaves recently. They are used across SE Asia in stir fries and hot pot dishes. They go by various names. […]

    Reply
  • 15. Carol Titel  |  February 21, 2010 at 7:26 am

    Those greens resemble Swiss Chard, to my mind. I would cut the stems off and put them in a steaming basket. Steam them for about five minutes and then add the greens and steam the whole batch for about ten minutes. We would serve them with vinegar and butter. Yum! Do the mums taste similarly?

    Reply

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