A Touch of Color, A Pinch of Flavor
Some Japanese dishes include edible flowers to give the food presentation a touch of fantasy and to enrich the flavors. It is not unusual to eat certain flowers, it is done in the US and in Japan. In Japan, there are several types of edible flowers. Here are some of the most known and used flowers in Japanese cuisine.
Sakura is a beautiful variety of cherry blossoms that bloom in spring. In shades of pink and white, the blossoms attract locals and tourists from all over the world. However, you may not know that you can actually eat them or use them as a seasoning or coloring agent to your dishes. The Japanese have been using sakura as an enhancing ingredient, yet can be consumed in so many ways. Generally, sakura is used as a flavour, as a light pink food colouring or as a garnish in modern cuisine. Examples are desserts like the sakura mochi, sakura daifuku, wagashi, macarons, and teas like sakura tea and sakurayu.
Chrysanthemum is the flower of autumn. It wakes up the digestive system. Its bright yellow petals add color to dishes. The blossoms can be boiled to make an aromatic, herbal drink known as ‘kiku-cha’ (Chrysanthemum tea). The whole flower is used to garnish sashimi and sushi dishes and can also be made into tempura. The petals are added to soups, salads and stir-fries; blanched first before adding to salads. Chrysanthemum petals can also be blanched briefly in lightly vinegared water and drained to make a tasty side dish. Sometimes you find them along with wasabi and soy.
Shiso is familiar to many cultures. It actually belongs to the mint family and is served to give a minted flavor to the dishes. In some countries, they eat Shiso leaves after dinner to refresh their mouths. In Japan, you might have noticed it being served along with wasabi and it can be eaten just raw. Shiso is best sliced and sprinkled on a citrus or mixed green salad, or tossed into a pot of green tea, or as a leaf wrap for tuna salad. The leaves are either green or purple. Purple leaves are used to dye pickled plums; the flowerhead of shiso is used as garnish on a sashimi plate.
The wild Japanese honeysuckle contains a sweet nectar that’s just like honey. These flowers are an attraction to hummingbirds, as well as rabbits and deer as they possess a thick and sweet aroma. However, some honeysuckles are poisonous, some are not. They are also rich in medicinal values. In Japan and China, they use these flowers to cure Influenza and other respiratory problems. As food, the honeysuckle is available as jelly, herbal tea, a vinaigrette dressing for homegrown salads, and can be an ingredient in baking, such as in Honeysuckle & Lemon Pound Cake.
Appetizing Blooms in Bellevue
At FLO Bellevue, your trendy Japanese restaurant, we use some of nature’s lovely blooms not just for a pleasing plate presentation, but are edible flavorings in some of your favorite classics.