In Japanese high gastronomy, it is a kind of transgression to offer an ingredient that is typical for a different season of the year. I am now consciously doing it wrong: though right now we have summer, I recommend you to eat edible chrysanthemum, which is considered an autumn or winter food. Surely you know the Japanese food sukiyaki, which will heat up in the winter cold. Edible chrysanthemum is a must in sukiyaki. It’s called shungiku. So why do I promote shungiku in the summer? Because shungiku can greatly enrich our summer salads, and the most important thing is that it contains a significant amount of beta carotene, provitamin A, which our bodies convert into vitamin A. And we need vitamin A right now in the beginning of summer. It keeps our immune system in good order and protects us against excessive sunlight. And because the sun is strong in the summer and we are more exposed to it than at other times of the year, it is good to think about vitamin A. So, if you include shungiku in your gastronomic repertoire, you will definitely do good. I recommend. Are you struggling with an initial mistrust that people usually do not eat chrysanthemums? If so, come to Miyabi this weekend to taste chrysanthemum delicacies. We will make three great dishes from shungiku leaves, which you will not otherwise taste in any other place in Prague!

You may grow shungiku yourself!

When I went to the sea with my children during summer holidays, I always took vitamin A pills with me. Of course, instead the supplements I could feed them with the right diet, but it was not easy goal on the road. Did you know that carotenoids are not only in carrots but also in pumpkin, asparagus, broccoli, grapefruit, peach, plum and egg yolk? They are also in spinach and here we are close to shungiku, because shungiku are also green leaves, but they are of a different shape and have a more pronounced taste and aroma. And just as you can easily grow spinach in your garden, you can also grow shungiku. Just get shungiku seeds and sow. Years ago, I brought seeds from Japan and since then I have shungiku in my garden everywhere. When I do not pick up the leaves regularly, plants bloom, but it doesn’t matter. They have beautiful yellow flowers like daisies and I use these in my ikebana arrangements. I can also decorate shungiku flowers on my dishes, because they are edible. When the flowers are left on the plant, they sow seeds naturally and next year I have edible chrysanthemums all the more. On the Internet, they recommend planting shungiku in pots and harvesting leaves even in winter. Good idea. It is handy because you can pluck new leaves and the plant branches off and you have more and more leaves. Harvest after harvest. I’m a very bad gardener, but shungiku is so vital that successfully survives my poor care. Shungiku even helps me against caterpillars on my field as a natural protection. Sungiku sticks to them and they don’t like it, but not me – I love shungiku! Whenever I want to eat shungiku I go and pick some leaves. So, plant shungiku! You haven’t missed time yet. The seeds are sold in the Czech Republic too. Before your leaves grow within a few weeks, you may go to SAPA, buy Vietnamese shungiku and learn how to eat it. It is a cheap vegetable – a large bundle for 30 CZK and behold! you will make the family happy with a new experience. An exotic experience!

Shungiku deserves to be appreciated in our regions much more it is.

Shungiku is a vegetable that is widely used in Asian cuisine, but is of Mediterranean origin. Means our region too. But it is more of an ornamental flower. It also grows wild. It is not used and appreciated, as in Asia, and that is a great pity. Shall we change that? In China, it has long been believed that edible chrysanthemum gives people vitality and helps to cure various ailments. All parts from root to flower can be eaten. You may drink flower teas and you don’t even know that there are shungiku flowers in them.

Shungiku. Shun Giku.春菊. In Japanese, chrysanthemum is called “kiku” 菊 and it is a very important flower. In the compound word shungiku, kiku switches to giku, and “shun” means spring. So shungiku is a spring chrysanthemum, and this may serve as an excuse that promote it in summer, although chrysanthemum generally has an autumn-winter genus. In Japan things are differentiated according to the genera of the season. Japanese people are not so much interested in the feminine, masculine or middle gender, then they are interested in seasonal identification of things. Well, things are complicated. Or easier? In any case, shungiku is blooming right now and, moreover, it is growing from spring to winter and giving us the gifts of its nutrients continuously. On the other hand, the chrysanthemum as we know it would not really bloom until autumn and its gifts are different. If you’ve ever had the opportunity to be in Japan for some autumn chrysanthemum show, you know what beauty it is. Some chrysanthemums have huge flowers and are absolutely imposing. It is no coincidence that the chrysanthemum is a symbol of the Japanese Empire. Its flower can be depicted in many forms and in many materials. For example, on my most magnificent onatsume Tea ceremony container is a golden inlay of chrysanthemums. In black lacquer urushi. But not to be mistaken, though the leaves of these rich chrysanthemums are similar to the leaves of shungiku chrysanthemums, they taste wrong, even if the scent reminds you of shungiku. So kiku is not like kiku. What is the most important on shungiku are leaves and what is important on kiku are flowers. And because flowers speak and have their sayings, chrysanthemums can speak of friendship, truth, and respect for those who have left us. It is our spiritual food. On the other hand, let us imagine the edible chrysanthemum shungiku as a daisy, which brings beneficial gifts to our physical bodies. But, we need both! And it is good! Chrysanthemum plants purify us and equip us to live like in a poem by the ancient poet Matsuo Basho.

Kiku no ka ya

Nara ni wa furuki


Frangrance of chrysantemums

And old Buddha’s statutes in Nara

Purify and refine my soul

That is why I pay tribute to all chrysanthemums! Both kiku and shungiku!

Yours, Miyabi Darja

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