Sansai - Are you waiting for the spring to wake up? - Waku Waku

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Sansai - Are you waiting for the spring to wake up?

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Sansai - Are you waiting for the spring to wake up?

For me, in Vietnam, the spring begins when the apricot blossoms in my house's yard open their buds. In Japan, on the contrary, seeing sansai fukinoto in the supermarket near my house, I know the spring has come.

Truc Le

Truc Le

Published on 09 Jan, 12:00

I am very keen on Japan's winter. Then I can admire the streets covered with white snows, press my hands close to a hot oden bowl, or idly roll my body in kotatsu watching movies and peeling tangerines at the same time.

If you are like me, also enjoying those winter pastimes, let's answer honestly: Have you ever hoped that the winter would end soon? I have.

After several bitterly cold months, I am eager to expect spring. And for me, sansai is the ambassador of Japan's spring.

Sansai (山菜) can be simply understood as the naturally grown vegetables on mountains, and they are only available in the spring when the snows melt sansai sprouts.

Each region has different kinds of sansai. The place I live has about seven to eight types of sansai which usually appear every year, but I like fukinoto most.

Fukinoto - a beautiful and tough girl
Fukinoto - a beautiful and tough girl

Fukinoto is the first kind of sansai that sprouts each year when the snows start to melt. Thus, it is easy to understand that fukinoto is the first type of sansai I have ever known.

In my opinion, fukinoto is like a beautiful but tough flower, as she will make those who dare to eat her feel bitter from the first piece. I'm just kidding, but fukinoto really has a strong bitter taste. I nearly threw the tempura fukinoto plate away and ignored all kinds of sansai due to that first bitter piece.

Making tempura fukinoto ^^
Making tempura fukinoto ^^

Tempura fukinoto - as pretty as flowers :D
Tempura fukinoto - as pretty as flowers :D

Fukinoto is usually made in the tempura style. Although this helps to remain the most original flavor, it's a pity that I cannot get accustomed to the pronounced bitter taste of tempura fukinoto.

That day, with a bit of panic and regret for money, I went online to find ways to handle the remaining fresh fukinoto. Google never lets me down. I found fuki-miso soup and an easy recipe.

"Cut the fukinoto buds in half, boil for a few minutes in dashi broth with mirin and seaweed. Dissolve miso in dashi broth and then add it to the soup."

As it is not entirely different from the way of cooking traditional miso soup, I was excited to follow. What you couldn't imagine is that it was the bitterest miso soup I had ever known. Such an uneasy meal!

When I have become a loyal fan of fukinoto, I sometimes still burst into a laugh when thinking of my first experience with fuki-miso. Now, I only need to boil fukinoto separately, wash them in the cold water, and add to the soup, then I will have a satisfactory bowl of fuki-miso.

The fukinoto buds are pretty soft and still keep their typical bitter taste, but just a bit. And the freshness of the mountainous spring vegetables still lingers on the tip of my tongue.

Boiling fukinoto separately, preparing the fuki-miso :D
Boiling fukinoto separately, preparing the fuki-miso :D

Fuki-miso soup
Fuki-miso soup

Perhaps like other unique dishes, such as natto, durian, or rotten tofu, once you can eat fukinoto, you will become addicted. Regardless of whoever ignores that fukinoto girl, I can't help but fall in love with her fierce personality.

From my passion for fukinoto, I am not afraid of trying and loving many other kinds of sansai. For me, sansai is a signal and a worth-expecting treasure after the cold winter days.

I'm still sitting in the kotatsu, peeling tangerines, watching movies, and thinking about the strange bitterness of the upcoming spring sansai. How about you, what do you expect when the spring wakes up?

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Truc Le

Truc Le

I love travelling and eating. I am excited to learn new things and challenge myself to new tasks.

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