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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.