Ingredient Spotlight: Say Konnichiwa To Nanohana

April 9, 2018, 9:07 am
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The blushing pink flowers of the cherry tree are the classic sign of springtime in Japan; however, just before the sakura blooms, the yellow buds of nanohana light up fields with sparks of yellow. The thin green shoots and bright flowers are so intrinsically tied to this season that nanohana signifies spring in traditional Japanese haiku poetry.

One of the oldest vegetables cultivated in Asia, nanohana is closely related to the vast crops of rapeseed that cover Europe and North America in blankets of yellow. However, unlike its Western cousin, nanohana is not only grown for its seeds to produce oil. Every part of the tender green shoots – florets, leaves, stems and bright yellow flowers – can be eaten.

A versatile vegetable, nanohana’s flavour is not unlike broccoli and benefits from similar methods of cooking: gentle steaming, boiling or stir-frying. Traditionally, it is served up as ohitashiblanched and marinated in a dashi and soy-sauce mix, and presented as a side dish. Alternatively, nanohana’s green crunch works perfectly in another Japanese favourite: deep-fried in tempura batter.

Tasting at its best when its flowers are just beginning to open, nanohana is bursting with vitamin C, calcium, iron and a whole host of other vitamins and minerals. It also boasts large amounts of the antioxidant beta-carotene, which is touted as having long-term benefits such as a decreased risk of both cancer and cognitive decline.

While not often widely available in the UK (we spotted it in the Japan Centre on London’s Panton Street), the lean green is worth seeking out: its clean and fresh taste will make Japanese-inspired dishes as fresh as a spring morning.

Content: courtesy of Flavour Feed

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