Sansai. Japanese mountain vegetables in a meal

Here is the meal that completes the black tofu and agedashi taro in the previous post.

Let’s talk a little about 山菜 sansai mean litterally mountain vegetables. That’s a generic name for many plants wild or cultivated in small amounts that are used in Japan, but also in Korea and China. The hermit Buddhist monks were counting on them to diversify their dishes, and they are often used in the shojin ryori (monk fasting meals) and kaiseki ryori (refined meal before tea ceremony). You can go and gather yours if you live in the countryside. I’m not sure that what I’d pick up near Osaka would be edible particularly with the current level of air pollution. So I usually find mines in the store, and they are cultivated.
There is no complete list of the varieties of sansai. It’s whatever you can eat.  

I had a mix containing nameko (orange mushrooms), enoki (white long mushrooms), warabi (in green, it’s fern sprouts), zenmai (in brown), small takenoko (bamboo sprouts, slices), kikurage (in dark brown, wood ear mushrooms). And I had renkon (lotus root).

They were boiled. So I rinsed and reheated them with dashi (fish broth), a little mirin and soy sauce.

Grilled komochi shishamo fish, with yuzu-kosho citrus pepper condiment.

Pastel salad : cabbage, kabu turnip and vinegar pickled ginger.

And genmai (brown rice). Well, that makes a nice Japanese meal. That’s not so long to prepare as the tofu was made in advance, the rice is done in the cooker, the veggies were pre-cooked.

Crosses en goma-ae

A few kogomi as the Japanese call them. Do you say fern sprouts or fiddlehead greens, têtes de violon, crosses de fougère ?

I know they are not so common over the world, but a few people eat them in Canada and in France, at least. In theory, ferns are slightly toxic… so that shouldn’t become a staple. A few every year are probably OK.
It’s a Spring veggie… they appeared early at the market.
They are part of the 山菜 sansai (mountain vegetables) popular for old style Japanese cuisine. If you click at the Japanese of wikipedia, you will see the list of such plants is extremely long and many have no common name in other languages.

The kogomi look like Saint-Nicolas’s crosse :

Or like Martians….

On the top photo, they are salted and waiting to release their juice. Then I poured boiling water on them.

And added a goma-ae dressing made on pounded white sesame, Kyoto miso (white and sweet), rice vinegar, a little garlic, grated ginger.

I boiled a few other stuff to comple, soba buckwheat noodles, spinach, momen (cotton) tofu covered with chili pepper. I added the broth of soba to the rest of sesame sauce, to have a hot dip sauce for the noodles and veggies.

Cal 486.1 F15.7g C63.3g P30.4g