The edible chrysanthemum, or whatever you choose to call it, is an acquired taste! Along side cardoons, it's something I love to grow in the vegetable garden but never get round to eating! I'm clearing the overgrown vegetable beds this week, putting the bolted lettuces and gone-to-seed spinach on the compost heap and planning to sow late summer/autumn salad crops and vegetables. The row of edible chrysanthemums has grown tall and they are covered with pretty two-tone yellow flowers - also edible. My use of this plant this year has been restricted to grazing the odd leaf and petal while I'm gardening. I really must do better than that, so this morning I've re-read the 'Chrysanthemum Greens' chapter in Joy Larkcom's book 'Oriental Vegetables'. It brought back memories of the neat little bundles of leaves in the Japanese vegetable markets - and being Japan there are many variations of leaf type - no doubt each has a particular attribute suited to a particular use. Joy advises that once the flowers open the leaves taste more bitter (how very true!) and the leaves and young shoots should be harvested when they are young and fresh and she says "for a supply of exceptionally tender young leaves, successive sowings can be made at 2-3 week intervals" - no wonder the seed is sold in generously large packets!
So, if anyone has a favourite recipe using shungiku (or tong hao or chop suey greens or whatever your local name for chrysanthemum coronarium is) I've love to hear about it.
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