ah, so you know of my predilection for weeds as food, and apparently i've stumbled upon a pretty good one here: zingiber mioga roscoe, a wild japanese ginger. found in the woodlands in japan, it is cultivated in australia and new zealand for food, in the united states as a garden ornamental, and pretty much considered an invasive scourge everywhere else. myoga, as the young ginger shoots are called, are prized for their delicate ginger flavour and crisp texture. also, the new flowers can be eaten, but the older rhizomes and more mature parts of the plant are toxic. in fact, the whole plant is so toxic it's carcinogenic. so think twice about that myoga binge-out party you were just planning!
i first tasted myoga at hirozen, my favourite japanese restaurant in los angeles. it was in the middle of one of those extraordinary omakase meals, where chef starts rummaging around in the back of the refrigerator for something to plonk in front of me. i had no idea what it was, and the first bite was surprising, yet familiar. it has the delicate crunch of a fresh water chestnut or the heart of very young sugar cane, and the taste is very faintly but very recognizably ginger. it was served as sushi, and that is how i prefer it now, simply sliced on top of lightly vinegared rice. delicately sweet, delicately sour, and refreshing.
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