March 18, 2009

Sansai (Edible Wild Plants)/山菜

The Japanese love sansai (edible wild plants), literally, mountain vegetables. The first sansai we gather in spring is fukinoto (butterbur sprouts).
Today, we got these fukinoto from my wife's sister. My wife made fuki miso with them, using miso, mirin, and sugar as seasonings.
Don't confuse fukinoto (young flower stalks of butterbur) with fuki (leaf stalks of butterbur).
The bitter taste of fukinoto is something we long for during the winter months.


JoanBailey said...

Great post! Do you eat or prepare any other wild vegetables? We have recently moved to Japan and are slowly learning about sansai. They are just amazing.

Hiroyuki said...

JoanBailey: Besides fukinoto, we eat:
Warabi (young sprouts of braken fern)
Kogomi or kogome (fiddleheads of ostrich fern)
Mitsuba akebi (young shoots of three-leaf akebia).
I undersand that the third sansai is not consumed in Nagano, where they are so bitter, but in my snowy region, they are less bitter, and are considered a delicacy.
We like to eat zenmai (young shoots of Japanese royal or Japanese flowering fern), too, but we don't gather them because they require a lot of work (repetitive rubbing and drying) before they become good to eat.

tama Matsuoka said...

Do you have any recipes for japanese knotweed or itadori (虎杖, イタドリ?). It is growing wild in the rest of the world and a delicious recipe or use for it would great.
we also have tsukushi growing wild here in the US.

Hiroyuki said...

tama Matsuoka: I simply stir-fried with pork.
Descriptions and photos can be found here:

It's very cumbersome to prepare tsukushi! You have to remove all the hakama (skirts?) from each stem!

tama Matsuoka said...

Does this taste good? Can I post the photos on my website meadow??
I will also try a jam because I make a lot of jams.

thank you for the advice on tsukushi. no time for too cumbersome recipes!

Hiroyuki said...

tama Matsuoka: I'd say yes, but I had removed almost all tartness from the itadori by soaking in water for too long, so I'd suggest tasting it from time to time during soaking to obtain the desired tartness.

Photos on your website? Sure you can!

tama Matsuoka said...

great. I am going to recommend this blog to them on sansai. I read through all your old posts on egullet and liked them a lot also. I will also send to my relatives in Japan (the kansai living/natto hating matsuokas)