Native to East Asia, the edible leaves of the chrysanthemum plant go by many names, including shungiku in Japanese and tong hao in Chinese; Chinatown foragers of the old school simply call them chop-suey greens. They have a deliciously grassy, slightly mustardy flavor; a cool, delicately crisp bite; and a reputation as a nutritional powerhouse. Mature greens are used to flavor soups, stews, and stir-fries, but the tender young specimens available now at Greenmarkets Windfall Farms are best raw in salads, like this one from Yunnan Kitchen chef Travis Post.
Travis Posts Chrysanthemum Salad With Sesame Dressing
1/3 cup sesame tahini, well-stirred (tip: to make stirring easier, flip the jar upside down 1 to 2 days before using)
4 tbs. unseasoned rice vinegar
1 tbs. Chinese black vinegar
1 tbs. chile oil
2 1/2 tbs. light soy sauce
1 tsp. sesame oil
1 tsp. kosher salt
1 1/2 tsp. sugar
Pinch ground Sichuan peppercorns
2 quarts loosely packed chrysanthemum greens
(1) In a small mixing bowl, whisk together the sesame tahini and the 2 vinegars. Add the remaining ingredients, except the greens, and stir until well combined. (2) Divide the chrysanthemum greens evenly on plates, and drizzle with dressing to taste. Serves 4 to 6.
*This article originally appeared in the May 13, 2013 issue of New York Magazine.