Edible chrysanthemum leaves. 春菊。(Chrysanthemum coronarium, garland chrysanthemum).
Originally from the Mediterranean, reached japan via China in the Muromachi period (1336-1573).
Lit. "spring chrysanthemum." Not the leaves of actual chrysanthemums, but a different type which is a real vegetable. Shungiku taste slightly bitter. The autumn variety is officially called kikuna.
Chrysanthemum leaves are in the first place used as a vegetable in nabemono, one-pot stews, such as sukiyaki, shabu-shabu, or torinabe. I also add them to yudofu. They are also used in ohitashi (parboiled chrysanthemum leaves with a mixture of dashi and soy sauce) and aemono (parboiled chrysanthemum leaves with a tofu or sesame dressing). Shungiku can also be added raw to Western salads.
Contains B-carotene and vitamin C.
Sources outside Japan: Japanese food stores.
Preservation: a few days in the refrigerator; longer if they are first boiled.
[Shungiku. Photo Ad Blankestijn]