Category Archives: Perennial vegetable shoots

Hosta icicles (yuki urui)

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.

American Spikenard salad

Last night, I tried American spikenard (American Udo) or Aralia racemosa for the first time! Although Aralia cordata (Japanese Udo) had a hint of bitterness after blanching, the spikenard was mild with no bitterness…a bit like cucumber was my guest’s comment 
NB! The spikenard was more thoroughly blanched than the udo, so not a reliable comparison!

Peeled and sliced American spikenard shoots

As with yesterday’s udo salad, I simply added a dressing of roasted sesame oil, salt and pepper! Delicious!

American spikenard to the left and Japanese udo to the right!

 

Udo salad

Walking past the Udo (Aralia cordata) patch yesterday morning I noticed that the shoots had outgrown their bucket and, as usual, had thrown the bucket down the hill, eager for some sunshine. Sad for it, its effort was in vain as they were bound for the kitchen! Here’s an album of pictures showing how I prepared the udo salad.
I alsø blanced Arali racemosa for the first time, but haven’t tried it yet…

The bucket of cordata let some light in at the top, so the shoots were greener than for A. racemosa

permakulturplanter.no visit!

A great visit from my old friends Irja Frydenlund and Benjamin Bro-Jørgensen from Tingvoll and permakulturplanter.no popped in this afternoon with little Asimina and Ainora (what’s that backwards?!!). Great names and, apart from trying to fill in a hole I’d just dug, lovely kids!

Thanks for the Asimina (pawpaw) plants :)

Perennial veg pakora

Pakora or bhaji is a popular snack in Indian and surrounding countries. Growing up in the UK, vegetarian Indian food has always been part of my diet since I was a student. It is basically various vegetables dipped into a batter made from gram (chick pea) flour and stir-fried. It would be fun to use broad bean flour as we can’t grow chick peas here. The flour was mixed with water, salt and pepper, chili, cumin and coriander until you get a batter with the consistency of cream.
The pictures show the 15 perennials I used (2 types of dandelion) and the final delicious and simple veggie dinner served with sour cream (or yoghurt), Most of the plants are forest garden species.

Oslo Botanical Garden, Tøyen, spring edibles

On a break in my journey from Trondheim to Hvaler I had a few hours edible-spotting in the Oslo Botanical Garden (full of – not allowed to pick – food at this time of year) ;)
NB! Not all plants shown here are edible!
I’ll add captions later!

 

Webinar on winter perennial vegetables!

Thank you Emilia Rekestad for putting last week’s webinar on winter perennial vegetables up more permanently on youtube. Emilia first introduces the webinar and the polyculture project through which it was organised!
I hope you find it useful and please help us by sharing with friends and relevant groups!!
 

Noxious pizza

I’m still alive and well after last night’s noxious pizza. I’ll explain. I used pea shoots from the living room, onion, Allium cernuum shoots harvested from the garden (I forgot to include Hablitzia shoots), garlic and chili…on top of the pizza, I added seed of Himalayan balsam (Impatiens glandulifera), one of the “worst” noxious (invasive) species…

 

Wild “Asparagus” for the king and queen’s 80th birthdays?

I noticed in a recent number (3/2017) of the Norwegian Useful Plants excellent magazine “Sopp og Nyttevekster” a picture on page 41 (picture) accompanying a recipe for “Spring risotto with wild asparagus, sorrel and peas”, but I noticed a familiar plant in the picture which I don’t think is wild aspargus (Asparagus spp.) but rather another one of the 80 plants in my book, Ornithogalum pyrenaicum (Bath asparagus, aspargette in France or Latte di gallina dei Pirenei in Italy). This plant is in the lily family….and is commonly used over its wild range which stretches from the Caucasus through the Mediterranean countries as far north as the UK, where it may have been introduced by the Romans for food near to the city of Bath.
It’s noted in the article that wild asparagus was served to the Norwegian king and queen on their 80th birthdays….but it’s unclear if the picture is of this dish?
This isn’t the first time this species has turned up in Norway as my friend Ove Fosså told me a few years ago that he had found Ornithogalum pyrenaicum being sold as asparagus in a supermarket in Sandnes (Stavanger) and that he’d also noticed it captioned as asparagus in  Norwegian chef Eyvind Hellstrøm’s cookbook Bageteller…thanks to Ove Fosså for this picture:
Ornithogalum_Hellstrøms_Bageteller
Ove also noticed it on the pizza of a cheesemaker friend  “Lise Brunborg ( the cheesemaker who makes the great blue cheese Fønix in Stavanger). It turned out, she had it from her parents’ fridge and they had bought it at Madla Handelslag, a cooperative in Stavanger:
See https://scontent-bru2-1.xx.fbcdn.net/v/t1.0-9/13339542_1637168542978165_7831958122115280143_n.jpg?oh=9582cc6e3d56c44d832c448aa7f695f3&oe=5AB6F8BB
Bath asparagus has a mild but different taste but can be used like a wild asparagus!  
Originally the word asparagus is derived from a word meaning simply “spring shoot”.
 

Skirret harvest 2017

A good skirret (sukkerrot) harvest again…I don’t grow much as this perennial root and shoot vegetable is not totally hardy here. I have a few plants along the southern house wall which are covered in winter to protect against hard frost.
More on my blog and book!
P1800171
 
Skirret-chufa stir-fry
 
The tallest skirret challenge
(Nobody has challenged my world record 2.3m skirret)
 
Skirret shoots