A few years ago we went to visit Hachijojima, an island down south of Tokyo in the Pacific that belongs to Tokyo actually. Besides being a lovely place, famous for their handwoven beautiful fabric used to make kimonos, their is one typical product from there: angelica, or ashitaba (明日葉).
Ashitaba is a green leaf that doesn’t smell much but once cooked as a very typical taste. Something that once you have tried you want to eat again! In France it is use to make sweets (the green slighly discusting sticks Of candied fruit on gateau des rois for example). While we were in Hachijojima we had ashitaba tempura, ashitaba sherbet and a few other variations. Completly enfatuated with this taste I bought a cooking book of ashitaba there, which presents a great variety of recipes, from rice with ashitaba to green smoothies, so not just typically Japanese recipes. They grow some ashitaba in Chiba prefecture, so when spring comes I easily can buy some in Ohara. In Tokyo, department stores and Yoshiike definitely have some. I tried a few recipes from the book at home to get used to processing ashitaba and came out with a few simple recipes on my own now. My super favorite is ashitaba-mashed potatoes. It makes a perfect combination, and it is really a great match with scrambled eggs, grilled pork…
An other nice combiniation is to use ashitaba as a substitute for basil. With tomatoes and olive oil, perfect to top with some pasta.
I’m still trying new recipes while the season of ashitaba goes on, so you may from it again!