Wednesday, April 27, 2011

SpyShopper-- Vegetables for Spring

Fuki no Tou (Petasites japonicus, left)  and  Kogomi (Matteuccia struthiopteris, right)

Oooh!  It's springtime and all the interesting, "what-on-earth-is-that?" vegetables are appearing in amongst the usual broccoli and green peppers. 

The one on the left I may just go ahead and buy, since Cici will be thrilled.  Or at least interested.  The very first story in the second grade language textbook is a sweet little tale called "Fuki no Tou"...the vegetable (flower head, really) on the left in the photo above. 

I just realized that this photo I took of "something" growing in a neighbor's backyard... is in fact Fuki, also called Giant Butterbur or Bog Rhubarb (seriously, who thinks of these names?).  Both the unopened flower buds (in the top photo) and the stalks are edible. 

The Fuki stalks (which aren't too expensive, and can be purchased peeled and parboiled) I have cooked with before.  They taste nice simmered with sliced bamboo shoot in a cup or so of water with a tablespoon each of light soy sauce and sugar.  Sprinkle katsuobushi (dried bonito flakes) on top for a rather elegant-looking spring dish which is also filling (lots of fiber).

The other vegetable, Kogomi, looked to me rather like the fiddlehead of a fern.   Come to find out... it *is* the fiddlehead of a fern!  Well!  Who knew?   The fiddlehead of the ostrich fern, in fact, which my mother had planted in abundance on the shady north side of our house.  I had no idea you could eat those!

Y498?  Yikes...

I'd like to cook something with the Butterbur flower heads (just like in the second grade story-- I *think* all three kids would try it, since they've all read that story...).

Bit on the pricey side, though (Y498!! Holy Butterburs, Batman!)...



  1. My first thought on seeing the Kogomi was, 'that's edible?' Now I know what it is, I'm still thinking, 'that's edible?'

    Wonder if all ferns are, or just a few types.

    Oh, and I never knew they were called fiddleheads, either, so that's two things I've learned today, and I've onlly been awake an hour! :-)

  2. Oops. I meant to mention...

    Sad news. It looks like Mama Eagle is dead. An eagle hit a. aircraft, and they think it's her, especially as she's not been back to the nest since :-(

  3. The Japanese have figured out how to eat all *kinds* of stuff--and most nearly all of it's good, too! Like, "how come we didn't think about eating that?" And of course, it's always delicately cooked and beautifully presented:-)

    I love fiddleheads, and the fact that they're called that:-)

    :-( I'd heard about Mama Eagle. They've identified that it was her. It just doesn't seem fair. Her first mate was killed in 2002 by an airplane, too. (The botanical garden isn't all that far from the Norfolk Airport...) Papa Eagle is still feeding the eaglets, but they don't know whether he'll be able to keep up with them alone. Fortunately they aren't still in the eggs or hatchlings or they probably would die. As it is, they're not too far from fledging and being able to feed themselves. It seems the Fish And Wildlife Department is keeping an eye on the situation. I still can't believe it.

  4. how do you know how to cook veggies you've never seen before? That would be my problem...

  5. Yeah, I caught up with the latest not long after posting, mostly via WEIT. Quite enjoyed the discussion on emotions, too. Of course they have them, to some degree. How else explain behaviour like swans holding the dead partner's head out of the water for ages? I've seen that first-hand. It's heart-breaking.

    Terry Pratchett on 'national cuisines' (I paraphrase, from memory. "The existence of dishes like shark's fin soup tells us one thing: Some rich bugger was claiming the rest of the shark.'

    Falen: The good old Brit method would be to boil it until most of the colour and any nutritional values have leached out into the water. Better methods possibly exist :-)

  6. They've removed the eaglets from the nest and are transferring them to the Wildlife Center of Virgina in Waynesboro. :-((

  7. Hi Sarah-- that's the nice thing about being here. I just go downstairs and ask other moms around here whether they've cooked with it before, and how:-)) I also get lots of recipes out of the co-op order magazine/paper.

    Daz-- Pratchett is brilliant:-) And as regards the Brit method of cooking--reminds me of an early scene in "Room With A View" and Aunt Charlotte (Maggie Smith-- of *course*) is complaining about the meat at their Italian Pension in Florence. "And the meat--it's been boiled 'til it's lost all it's flavor!"

  8. I have to admit that I've never read or watched Room With A View. Must've been a British chef, is all I can say. I think I was about 17 before I found out that cabbage didn't actually have to be limp, soggy and almost white. And it actually has a taste, too! Amazing.

    Totally OT: check out Newton TV. Tis good stuff.

    Awww shame. They'll release them to the wild, when old enough, I hope?

    *rushes off to check the latest Eagle news*

  9. daz-- awesome link! Thanks! That went straight to the bookmark toolbar:-)) Room With A View is one of my favorite movies *ever*. Puccini, Maggie Smith, and the best kissing scene in any movie ever. What's not to like? (Also, gorgeous scenes set in Florence...) The novelist, watching main character Lucy with a literary eye, "The young girl, transfigured by Italy. And why should she not be transfigured? It happened to the Goths!" Brilliant:-)

    Eaglets-- the nest is empty. :-(( I watched Julian take them out again. He is quite an arborist. The eaglets will be raised in the avaian cage (it's huge) at the Wildlife Center and released when they've fledged. Go over to WEIT and read Ophelia Benson's comments-- she watched Papa Eagle come back to an empty nest with a fish. Heartbreaking. But they have a very good track record of getting eagles (and other animals) back out into the wild. So these eaglets are lucky in some ways.

  10. Hmm, so do you recommend the film over the book? Or should I do the usual and read the book first?

    BTW, talking of films and books. I think we've mentioned this before, but I really recommend CS Forester's The African Queen. It's something of a quest on my part to make people aware of the novel, as the film's so popular, yet the book hardly ever spoken of.

    Agreed, the eaglets are probably better off in the long run. Still very sad for Papa Eagle, though.

    Here's another awesome link, if you haven't already seen it via Pharyngula, that is.