Saturday, March 28, 2015
2015 illustrated recipes: set 2 (edible wild plants)
I've mentioned before that I was asked by the Japan Times ST to create 4 sets of illustrated recipes this year-- one for each season. For a while I was afraid I wasn't going to make the April 1 deadline for the spring set. But I find that-- for better or for worse-- deadlines hold a kind of magical power over me.
Somehow I was able to draw on hidden reserves of energy, and I managed to finish these with time to spare. I'm scared to examine them too closely lest I find new reasons to start all over from the beginning. (I do that a lot... A whole lot.)
Each recipe features what the Japanese call sansai --wild edible plants, especially those that signal the end of winter and the beginning of spring. In this case, the fiddlehead ferns, field horsetails, wild mint, butterbur, dandelions, wild mitsuba, mugwort, and even the leaves of the yaezakura cherry tree that grow in my very neglected back yard. They serve as my excuse when the neighbors wonder out loud if I ever plan to "do anything with that jungle."
The "jungle" is unclaimed by dogs or cats, untouched by either artificial fertilizer or week killer, partially-enclosed by a wall and not particularly close to heavily-trafficked roads. So it's quite safe to eat the edible weeds that grow there-- in moderation. Besides, it wouldn't be right to greet a Japanese spring without adding sansai to the menu. It just wouldn't.