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Japanese Vegetables in Spring: Sansai

As spring came knocking gently at our windows, nature in Japan wakes up from their cold slumber to Sakura trees and also spring seasonal vegetables, Japanese sansai in particular. Japanese sansai is also called spring mountain vegetables, wild plants in the mountains of Japan that are edible. Most Japanese will coat them with tempura flour and fry them, which transform these exotic sansai into taste snacks and side dishes during meals. They also contain a lot of nutrients, however most Japanese sansai has a bitter taste so we strongly advise everyone to boil them before turning them into the star of your dish!

With that, let’s take a look of the Japanese sansai that are available on KODAWARI this spring!

Fuki (Butterbur) / ふき

Fuki is also called butterbur, which is a plant that grows in stalks. As most Japanese sansai, fuki is more on the bitter end of the spectrum, to overcome that you can just chop them up by rubbing them with salt and boil them. They are usually battered up with tempura batter, or just eat it as it is after boiling. They also taste great if you simmer them in some dashi soup and mirin.

Fukinotou (Butterbur Buds) / ふきのとう

The buds of butterbur plant, we call them the baby buds. The buds are edible and highly nutritious, they look really cute as well! It is smaller than an average Brussels sprout, which makes it really great as bite-size healthy snack. Being the child of fuki, it is also bitter if not cooked properly, hence many usually deep fry these goodies into tempura, or stir fry them with some miso paste.

Taranome (Japanese Angelica Tree) / タラの芽

Taranome is also called Angelica plant in English, and it is usually referred as the King of Japanese Sansai because of its distinct bitter taste and looks like a vegetable with a crown. Astringent and bitter, it is also best if you blanch them with hot water to remove the bitterness, and then put on some batter to make tempura.

Kogomi (Fiddleheads of Ostrich Fern) / こごみ

Kogomi reminds us of a hook, as the tip of the sansai is curled in and shaped like a fern. Usually found in shady, damp forest of Japan, it tastes bright and nutty, with a tinge of bitterness if you cook it with the right ingredients. Feel free to stir fry them with some garlic, then season with some salt and pepper 😀

Urui / うるい

Urui is a bit slimy, but also very crispy. It has a similar texture as asparagus. For urui, you can eat it raw in salads, or boil them as usual and make them into tempura after.

It’s such a shame that Japanese sansai are only around for a few months, and it will be another year again if you miss them out this spring. Our Japanese sansai are brought in directly from Toyosu Market, Japan, airflown in every week. Preorder starts every Thursday 12pm to Monday 11am, and delivers on Thursdays and Fridays.

*We’ve also got an update just recently from our suppliers in Toyosu that sansai this year are slightly more expensive than previous years, as there is lesser demand in Japan due to COVID, resulting in the low crop yield. We hope to seek for your kind understanding regarding this in case you are wondering why they are so expensive nowadays.

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