In Season: Shungiku

Whether you're a CSA devotee, a farmers' market weekender or consider ketchup a
veg, we'll bring you fresh inspiration for how to prepare our local produce.

This week's harvest: Shungiku

No, it's not a new form of martial arts. You might have heard of this on the menu at some of the more sophisticated restaurants, at your favorite Asian spot -- or maybe you've never heard of it at all. It's a fancy word for edible chrysanthemum. Even more simply put, it's leaves from a pretty flower.

Read on to become a shungiku cooking master.

When is shungiku in season?
Depending on the weather, February to May.

Shungiku...gesundheit. Shungiku is the Japanese word for these chrysanthemum greens. It is most commonly used in East Asian and Greek cooking. You'll see it in a lot of hot pot type dishes (added at the end) but it's also great used in salads too. Rich in Vitamin B, it has a zippy herbal flavor that is a unique bright addition to your meals. People will think you're a super star home cook if you tell them you've made a shabu-shabu hot pot with shungiku.

Here's a list of its aliases: shungiku, edible chrysanthemum, chop suey greens, garland chrysanthemum, chrysanthemum greens, tần o, rau cú, caỉ cúc, tong ho, kikuna, ssukgat, mantilida, crown daisy, Japanese-green, antimonio, mirabeles, moya, kikuna, and kelsang/kaysan.

Selecting, cleaning and storage tips:
Look for greens that don't look super wilted though these are a soft green that don't have a strong structure. Take these soft feathery leaves home and give them a good rinse in a clean sink, spin dry and store it in a plastic bag in the fridge with a paper towel thrown in to collect extra moisture.

Your shungiku master training:

Fresh applications

Kinoith Summer Garden Salad
from the Ballymaloe Cookery School

Shunkgiku Salad with Sesame Soy Dressing
fresh green salad with sliced egg pancake and ham

Cooked applications​

Smiley Straw Mushrooms with Tong Ho
Seriously adorable and simple soup

Saga Wagyu Sukiyaki
Beef hot pot recipe from Iron Chef Morimoto

Taiwanese Oyster Omelete
I'm not an oyster person, but if you are, here's one

Roast Chicken Noodle Soup with Chrysanthemum
Roast chicken soup with star anise and ginger, yes please

Budae Jjigae Army Base Stew Recipe
This recipe including hot dogs or spam and ramen was invented by Koreans during the Korean War and post-war famine period using foods handed out by U.S. Army bases.

Jennifer Woods is a local food advocate with over 10 years working in the AZ food industry, and currently works for Crooked Sky Farms, a CSA produce farm based in South Phoenix.

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