Thursday, April 20, 2017

Preserved Cherry Blossom Leaves

Like Cherry Blossoms themselves, the cherry blossom leaves are edible too. We often use the preserved cherry blossom leaves for Japanese sweets and desserts. Like the blossoms, the leaves have a beautiful scent of their own. The fragrant leaves are always a good way to add a hint of “spring” to your dish and presentation. Here is the link to my Tokyo Style Sakura Mochi recipe.

To make the preserved cherry blossom leaves, you want to pick the soft young leaves. Like with the blossoms, finding the perfect leaves depends on the timing. If the leaves are too mature they will be tough to chew. The double-flowered cherry blossom tree produces leaves with a beautiful fragrance.

Preserved Cherry Blossom Leaves

·      100g tender leaves from the double-flowered cherry tree
·      sea salt
·      100cc of 20% salt water

1.     Wash the cherry leaves well.

2.     Boil a few cups of water and scald the leaves quickly.

3.     Remove from the hot water and immediately cool down in a cold water bath.

4.     Wipe the leaves dry.

5.     On the tray, sprinkle a light layer of salt then lay the leaves on top of the salt then sprinkle a light layer of salt on top of the leaves. Repeat this several times and finish with sprinkling salt.

6.     Pour the 100cc of salt water over the leaves and cover with plastic wrap. Place a flat weight on top of the plastic and store in the fridge for 3 to 4 days.

7.     Remove the weight and store in the fridge until needed.

8.     Desalinate the leaves before using. Soak the leaves in water for 5 to 10 minutes then pat dry. You can store the leaves in your fridge for up to 1 year.

★If you are interested in Japanese cuisine then check out my other articles in the Washoku.Guide!

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Salted Cherry Blossoms

Did you know that cherry blossoms are edible flowers? The cherry blossoms are only available for a short duration of time but by pickling or salting these delicate edible flowers we can enjoy them anytime in the year.

The “double-flowered” cherry blossoms are the best choice. They bloom a little later than the Weeping cherry and Yoshino cherry, has more fragrance, and the color is brighter than other cherry blossoms.

We pick the double-dowered cherry blossoms before they are fully bloomed, maybe around 60 to 70% opened. If you pick them too early, then the flower doesn’t open when you make a tea and if you pick them when fully opened the fragrance flavor won’t be at their peak. It is a little difficult to find the perfect timing, even I am struggling with the timing every year too.

These salted cherry blossoms are good for any dish like pasta, soup, salad, sweets, or desserts. You can decorate with or add these cherry blossoms to cookies, cake, pudding, or whatever you think is a good fit. I introduced a rice dish, Green Peas Rice with Cherry Blossoms, and a mochi dessert with salted cherry blossoms, Tokyo Style Sakura Mochi in my previous post. Don't forget to rinse the salt off before you use them.

This lovely pink vinegar is the leftover from the cherry blossoms pickling process. The cherry blossoms vinegar can be used for pickling daikon radish, which gives it a lovely pale pink color. Also it can be used as sushi vinegar for sushi rice. The rice will also get the pale pink color and cherry blossoms fragrance.

This is green tea with salted cherry blossoms. When you pour the green tea, the cherry blossoms open with beautiful fragrance. How lovely.

Salted Cherry Blossoms

·      200g of double-flowered cherry blossoms
·      40 to 50g of sea salt
·      4 to 5 tablespoons of rice vinegar

·      sea salt to preserve

1.     Pick 70% bloomed cherry blossoms with some stems.

2.     Wash the flowers gently and pat them dry.

3.     In a Ziploc bag, put the cherry blossoms and salt together, and close without air.

4.     Put some flat weight on the cherry blossom bag to compress it overnight. Twice the weight of the cherry blossom bag is suffice. For this recipe, about 400g of weight will be perfect.

5.     Add the rice vinegar in the bag and compress with some lighter weight (about 200g), and leave it resting for a couple of days. Then take the weight off and leave another couple of days more.

6.     Take the blossoms out from the bag, and softly pat dry. Spread them on the strainer or paper towel to dry in the shade for a couple of days until about half dried.

7.     In a sterilized container, put the cherry blossoms and a lot of sea salt to age for 1 to 2 years. You can store them at room temperature but I usually keep them in my fridge.

★If you are interested in Japanese cuisine then check out my other articles in the Washoku.Guide!