The other day, I stumbled upon this very strange-looking plant in the supermarket. I'm not even sure if it's a vegetable. Whatever it is, I was intrigued enough to buy a package of Makomotake, as they are called here. Now I have no idea what it's called or if it's even available outside of Japan as an hour of searching for information in English online proved futile.
However, I did come up with a lot of information in Japanese so it's obviously more popular than I thought at first. Why haven't I ever seen this plant in my life before? As a self-confessed foodie, I am almost ashamed to admit this fact but I blame it on the rarity of its availability for most of the year. In fact, you can only find these in select stores in the fall.
Think of it as a long stalk of artichoke. The outer leaves are hard and must be peeled away to reveal the edible and tender heart. Once exposed, the Makomotake hearts can be eaten raw in salads, or cooked to your liking. Today I decided to try a little of both.
For my salad, I simply sliced the tender hearts into random slivers like so. While slicing them up for my salad, I snuck in a bite to see what it tasted like unadorned and in its raw state. Hmm....it's a bit reminiscent of asparagus in texture and taste, with a hint of young bamboo shoots. I think I might really like this plant.
So I rummaged through the vegetable compartment of my refrigerator, trying to make use of what I had before they spoiled. I made sure to thoroughly wash, dry and cut them into bite-sized pieces for easy consumption. Lunch time was near.
As soon as the vegetables were prepared, I immediately placed some baby leaves on a large-sized plate. I love any sort of green leafy vegetables in salads, with the exception of iceberg lettuce. That one vegetable is utterly boring, it can put me to sleep.
The next steps are easy and I find, therapeutic especially while humming to your favorite tune. If you take your time to compose your salad in this way, you will be rewarded with a beautiful one. Not only are salads more beautiful this way, it seems to taste better too. As you can see, I carefully placed sliced cucumbers ( cut on the bias ) into the mix.
Here comes the star of the show. The freshly-cut Makomotake slices have been placed strategically into slots reserved especially for them. Today I treat them as VIP so they get to sit inside the salad first.
Once the Makomotake slices have comfortably found their places in the salad, it's time to accessorize with color. These organic radishes taste wonderful in salads and I love the slight bitterness they add to this otherwise, subtle-tasting salad.
Finally, yellow cherry tomatoes are like the cherry on top of sundaes. Not only do they add color, they bring a beautiful sweetness to the salad mix. The dressing is kept simple and can be made in a pinch.
I don't know why people use store-bought dressings in the first place. I usually find them cloyingly sweet, too salty or just too thick for my liking. Today I simply mixed extra-virgin olive oil, white wine vinegar, sea salt, black pepper and a little bit of honey. How easy is that?
The great thing about a simple dressing is that it doesn't mask the flavors of the fresh salad ingredients and lets you enjoy each vegetable in its purity. I love salad this way and I feel, this is the way salad should always be.
And voila! What do you think of this salad? Beautiful no? Yes? Maybe so?
By the way, I also made a video about Makomotake. You can check it out right here.
And if you didn't we had a YouTube Channel, well now you know! I, along with my friend Satoshi, will be releasing new videos twice a week. Hopefully we'll get them out more than that once time allows.
For now though, we do have a dozen videos up for your enjoyment so please pay a visit to our channel and see if any interests you. Also if you like the videos, I would be forever grateful if you give them a thumbs up over there. If you subscribe to the channel, that would probably make me cry with intense happiness. No kidding! :)
Once again, thanks for reading and if you enjoyed this post, don't forget to subscribe to this blog for regular updates and more! Also if you have anything you'd like me to make, review or visit in Japan, please drop me a note on the comments below. Or you could just say hi. I'd be happy either way.
Thanks and have an awesome week!