The light, astringent young leaves of edible chrysanthemum mixed with crisp bean sprouts make a tasty salad combination. A pinch of sugar in the dressing gives it an elusive sweet-sour taste. A fresh yellow sukkat blossom would be a perfect garnish. If sukkat is unavailable in your area, dandelion can be substituted.
• 4 handfuls edible chrysanthemum stems and leaves (pick when young and tender and 4 to 8 inches tall)
• 4 handfuls fresh bean sprouts
• 4 tablespoons red wine vinegar
• 2 tablespoons soy sauce
• Pinch sugar
• 1/2 teaspoon dark sesame seed oil
• 3/4 tablespoon chopped ginger, garlic, or green scallions, optional
• A sprinkling of sesame seeds
1. Wash the edible chrysanthemum leaves well and blanch in lightly salted boiling water just until the color darkens. (Leaves will turn bitter if blanched too long.) Drain in a colander, then pour cold water over the leaves to stop the cooking.
2. Place the leaves between two layers of paper towels and gently squeeze out excess water. Repeat the procedure with the bean sprouts. In a medium bowl, combine the remaining ingredients except the sesame seeds.
3. Add the chrysanthemum leaves and bean sprouts, and toss the salad lightly with your hands. Divide among four salad plates.
4. Sprinkle sesame seeds over each salad and serve immediately.
Carole Saville is a Los Angeles writer and landscape designer who specializes in herbs.
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Asian Herbs and Their Many Uses