Tonight’s dinner was the first tempura of the year, made with Emmer wheat….delicious!
With Mustard “Giant Red”, dandelion, Hosta flower shoots, assorted lily flowers, ground elder, Daubenton and Daubenton variegated perennial kale, Rosa spp., ragged jack kale, Crambe cordifolia flowers and buds, broad bean tops, Houttuynia cordata “Chameleon”, Calendula officinalis flower, Sonchus oleraceus, giant bellflower flower buds, Allium cernuum flower, Allium senescens flowers, Allium rubens flowers, Diplotaxis (perennial rocket), grape leaf, mustard broccolis, various lettuces, Hablitzia tops, Scorzonera flower stems and buds etc.
One of my favourite spring dishes is nettle and ramsons quiche, the ramsons cultivated on the north side of the house! Tonight’s dinner!
Last night’s ingredients for a “sweet and sour” stir fry: (from left to right) – Allium cernuum (chicago onion / prærieløk), Crambe maritima (sea kale / strandkål) broccolis, sweet cicely flowers and young seeds (spansk kjørvel), Arctium spp (burdock / borre) flower stems (sweet), flower stems of Heracleum maximum (cow parsnip) (also sweetish), Rumex patientia (patience dock / hagesyre), Campanula latifolia (giant bellflower / storklokke) tops and Bunias orientalis (turkish rocket / russekål) broccolis! Delicious!
(the flower stems are first peeled to remove the coarse outer layer)
Last night’s veggie whole grain sourdough pizza had amongst a few other things Siberian onion Allium nutans shoots, Ragged Jack kale seedlings, Hablitzia tops and French sorrel Rumex scutatus!
The other day I discovered a long suffering Hosta that I’d covered with a bucket in the spring. Surprisingly the blanched shoots were in good condition despite the warmth. We ate them as a salad with a simple dipping sauce (roasted sesame oil, soy sauce and pepper! And it was delicious, mild tasting, crispy and refreshing, the texture and shape of the leaf reminding my friend of artichoke! The day afterwards, I ate the rest lightly fried with garlic and chili in an omelette with sea kale broccolis! I’m sure you can use any Hosta for this. In Japan, Hosta montana is the main species cultivated for the markets. We found blanched Hosta shoots or urui in all the supermarkets in late march / early april during my study trip to Japan. However, H. montana is not an accepted species name by the Plant List (plantlist.org) and is often given as a variety, H. sieboldiana var montana or var gigantea. However, on the taxonomy account at http://www.hostalibrary.org/species/pdf/species_part1.pdf, it is stated that H. montana is so obviously different from H. sieboldiana that even the average gardener can tell them apart! For this reason, I used H. montana in my book as it is still commonly used in horticulture. For a list of cultivar names known as H. montana, see http://myhostas.be/db/hostas/montana. Hosta undulata is also noted on the Japanese Hosta wiki page as being used. This is no longer accepted as a species and is considered to be a group of cultivars H. “Undulata” (see http://myhostas.be/db/hostas/undulata for a list of cultivars associated with Undulata).
On the Japanese Hosta wiki (translated with Google translate), the main producing area for urui is given as Yamagata prefecture (north of Tokyo on the other side of Honshu), which ship light green young shoots which are used for salads , pickles , stir-fry , with miso sauce , vinegar miso , miso soup , mixed rice , sushi rolls etc. This explains why we didn’t see the production of Hosta during our farm trips south of Tokyo.
The Japanese name is 雪うるい (yuki urui) which means snow leaf or icicles (google the Japanese name to see many pictures). They are produced in darkened greenhouses for an extended season or the rows are mounded outdoors. The production techniques seem to be different judging by the colour of the urui sold in supermarkets.
Most years since I’ve followed this tradition on or near my birthday, no chips this year as the potatoes have run out and nowadays the macaroni cheese is mixed with masses of green stuff both from the garden and, yesterday, fiddleheads harvested on the Homla walk. This is more or less the only time in the year I have dessert and the only time I eat sugar…in rhubarb crumble, also with family roots back to the 60s :)
rhubarb crumble, also with family roots back to the 60s :)