When an uncurled fern frond first peaks through the soil in the spring, it is called a "fiddlehead". Fiddlehead ferns offer an earthy, nutty flavor that has been likened to the taste of asparagus, artichokes, and mushrooms.
Hairy eggplant may be eaten raw by themselves or cooked in dishes to add a touch of piquant sweet and sourness -
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Entirely edible, Mitsuba has a very distinct appearance and characteristic fragrance. Three plain parsley-like leaves grow on each long slender white stalk. Producing light green cress-like leaves that darken as they grow larger and mature, the attractive tiny star-shaped flowers quickly turn to seed. Even though it is not related to either, this fine herb's subtle flavor is reminiscent to that of a blend of celery leaves, Italian parsley and angelica. Some say it offers a hint of clove and has somewhat of the sharpness of sorrel. Very agreeable to the palate, Mitsuba is also known as Japanese wild parsley, white chervil and trefoil.
Mitsuba makes sporadic appearances in the marketplace year-round.
Not exactly a new herb, Mitsuba is a recently discovered culinary treasure for those of us living in North America.
This delicate herb is high in carotene and vitamin C.
Add Mitsuba, fresh or cooked, to soups, rice, salads, casseroles, stir fries, sashimi and custards. Experiment with all parts of the plant as the leaves, stems, seeds and even the roots are edible. Mitsuba turns bitter when cooked more than a few minutes, so cook this herb very lightly to preserve its flavor or add it to dishes just before serving.
Considered a classic seasoning, Mitsuba is as popular in Asian cuisine just as Italian and curly parsley are favored in Western dishes. Japanese chefs like to use a trio of leaves as an elegant garnish for their special dishes. Pretty Mitsuba is commonly used as a garnish for nabe, a variety of communal one-pot meals. Not only preferred by the Japanese, Native Americans once gathered the related wild honewort, a woodland perennial that flourishes from Manitoba to New Brunswick and even way down south to Georgia, which they used as both a vegetable and as a seasoning.
Also known as Japanese wild parsley, Mitsuba grows wild in the mountains of Japan and covers the land with beautiful light purple blossoms in early spring. Also cultivated in Korea and China, this herb is actually a member of the carrot family, Apiaceae-Umbelliferae. Mitsuba is one of the very few herbs that actually prefer partial shade to flourish.