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What Is It?
A leafy green member of the daisy family (Asteraceae). Native to the Mediterranean but somewhat infrequently used there, its distinctive flavour is used to great effect primarily in Asian cooking.
YEAR-ROUND (best in Winter and Spring)
Green/floral/bitter; distinctive and strong for a green vegetable
Chrysanthemum greens, edible chrysanthemum, chop suey greens, crown daisy, Japanese greens; tong-ho (choy) (Cantonese transliterations commonly used in English); tónghāo (Mandarin); shungiku (Japanese); ssukgat (Korean); chartzith (Hebrew); mantilida (Greek).
Asian grocery stores, especially Korean, Japanese, and Chinese stores.
Look for bright, fresh looking leaves without obvious tears or signs of wilting. Avoid leaves with yellow edges as they’re likely to be bitter. Choose smaller leaves/stems if possible, as they’ll be more tender.
Difficulty: Low – Simply wash the leaves and stems gently in cold water. Particularly large, tough stems can be discarded. Leaves can be left whole or chopped, depending on the requirements of a particular dish.
Eaten cooked or raw; cooked is more common.
Short Term: Unwashed in a breathable/open plastic bag in the crisper drawer – 3-5 days
Long Term: Chop, blanch for 2 minutes, drain and cool, then freeze
Green/Floral/Bitter – A bit tricky to describe, the flavour is a mix of leafy green and the distinctive floral taste of chrysanthemum (picture chrysanthemum tea, if you’ve had it). The flavour is fairly bold and powerful, especially for a leafy green.
None. The flavour of garland chrysanthemum is very distinctive. Spinach is texturally similar, but completely dissimilar in terms of flavour.
Frequently found in East Asian (and especially Chinese, Korean, and Japanese) soups, stews, hotpots, etc. Young, tender leaves can be used in salads and other raw dishes.
Pairs very nicely with tofu, root vegetables, miso, and mushrooms. As a strong flavour, it needs to be paired carefully, but as a general rule it works well with earthy flavours, stocks. Seafood is a less common pairing, but a very nice one to work with.
There are two important varieties to note:
Small Leaf – the most common variety, shown in the photos here.
Large or Round Leaf – an old Chinese variety with largely, brighter, somewhat oak-leaf shaped foliage.
For more on these varieties and their use, click “Need More Detail” below.
Extremely high in Vitamin K For a full nutritional profile, click Need More Detail? below
The entire above-ground plant is eaten, including leaves, stalks, and flowers.
Health & Science
Unlike many other leafy greens, garland chrysanthemum hasn’t received much research attention. It seems to be a relatively unremarkable, albeit healthy food.
Organic vs. Conventional
Conventionally grown garland chrysanthemum is more commonly available than organic. Organic seed varieties are increasingly common, and the plant’s ease of cultivation makes home-growing a viable possibility.