Cooking with Myoga
The photo above shows a myoga flower in bloom. Like the cherry blossom, it is a harbinger of spring. Although myoga (Zingiber mioga) is related to the ginger plant, it’s not the tuberous root, but rather the flower bud, and sometimes the stem, that we eat. The photo below shows what myoga looks like when we buy it at the grocery store.
Myoga is *not* hot like ginger root. It has a lovely fragrance, a pretty pink color, and a refreshing crunchiness with an herb-y taste that clears the palate. It is often used as a garnish– say with grilled fish– but its culinary use is practically boundless. It can be mixed with rice, added to miso soup, rolled in an egg roll wrapper and deep-fried, pickled, used as a vegetarian sushi topping, coated with tempura batter and fried, used as a filling for pork rolls, sprinkled on udon noodles, tossed with cooked veggies and sauce, mixed into tabbouli (I do this a lot) or green salad, coated with pickled plum sauce, and so on and so on.
My own contribution to the myoga recipe repertoire is fresh sardines stuffed with myoga, shiso, and black sesame seed. The main ingredients are 4 ~6 fresh sardines (slit along the belly and cleaned out, bones removed, spread flat like a triangle with the tail left intact), a package of ten fresh green shiso leaves, two or three whole fresh myoga, and about 2 tablespoons of black sesame seeds.
Rinse the cleaned sardines with sake and pat dry with paper towels. Chop the myoga and shiso leaves finely, put them in a mixing bowl with the sesame seeds and toss till everything is thoroughly and evenly mixed together. Sprinkle the sardines with a little salt and dust both sides with potato starch or corn starch. Spread the fish out, skin side down, and pile the myoga-shiso-sesame mixture evenly onto each fish. Then fold each sardine over so that the long sides meet. If filling spills out, try to press it back in, but we will used whatever won’t fit in later, so don’t worry about it.
Heat a little oil in a large frying pan. Lay the sardines in the pan without letting them overplap. If any filling is left over, sprinkle it over the fish. Press the sardines gently so that they stay folded over. Lay waxed paper over the fish, and then over that, place a pot lid or a plate that is smaller than the circumference of the frying pan. This is to hold down the sardines and keep them from unfolding while they cook. Turn the sardines over after a couple minutes, let them cook for another couple minutes and they should be done. (time depends on the size of the fish)
Filed under: Pan-fry, Seafood | 5 Comments
Tags: myoga buds, Pan-fry, sardines, sesame, shiso