Photo: Victor Prado/New York Magazine; Illustrations by John Burgoyne
Native to East Asia, the edible leaves of the chrysanthemum plant go by many names, including shungiku in Japanese and tong hao in Chinese; Chinatown foragers of the old school simply call them chop-suey greens. They have a deliciously grassy, slightly mustardy flavor; a cool, delicately crisp bite; and a reputation as a nutritional powerhouse. Mature greens are used to flavor soups, stews, and stir-fries, but the tender young specimens available now atGreenmarket’s Windfall Farms are best raw in salads, like this one fromYunnan Kitchen chef Travis Post.
Travis Post’s Chrysanthemum Salad With Sesame Dressing
1/3 cup sesame tahini, well-stirred (tip: to make stirring easier, flip the jar upside down 1 to 2 days before using) 4 tbs. unseasoned rice vinegar 1 tbs. Chinese black vinegar 1 tbs. chile oil 2 1/2 tbs. light soy sauce 1 tsp. sesame oil 1 tsp. kosher salt 1 1/2 tsp. sugar Pinch ground Sichuan peppercorns 2 quarts loosely packed chrysanthemum greens
(1) In a small mixing bowl, whisk together the sesame tahini and the 2 vinegars. Add the remaining ingredients, except the greens, and stir until well combined. (2) Divide the chrysanthemum greens evenly on plates, and drizzle with dressing to taste. Serves 4 to 6.
*This article originally appeared in the May 13, 2013 issue of New York Magazine.