Sunday, April 16, 2006


HORSETAIL HEAVEN

Out yesterday on one of our Spring walks in a newly discovered and beautiful park above the Lake, one of our paths led us beside an entire bank covered with the vegetative stalks - as the scientists call them - of tsukushi (horsetail; Equisetum arvense), right at their point of culinary perfection, just before the new pine cone-like tips begin to open and issue spores, when the tips begin to turn brown from the top down and become inedible. They're harvestable in that ideal state for about a day. Time was a'wastin'. (The moreso because we'd missed them around our place, owing to our focused hunt for taranome; by the time we noticed the tsukushi, they'd all turned brown.) It was raining, but we threw down our umbrellas, got out our harvesting bags and went to work.

When you're surrounded by countless short-term delicacies to be had for free, it's hard to call it quits; so we picked along the whole hillside till we had a big bag full of the slender, fragile, oddly beautiful goodies. On the way home we stopped at some friends' houses and gave them each a good handful, much to their delight. Some people pickle them; our upmountain neighbor candies them every year. We had a horsetail omelet for breakfast this morning.

The basic horsetail Japanese recipe is to remove the stiff brown (and charmingly labeled) ‘hakama’ (before removal on right in photo; after on left) sauté very briefly in sesame oil, add soy sauce, some brown sugar, optional mirin (rice wine) (or white wine) and cook very briefly in resulting sauce. Or, after the sesame oil part, stir in an egg or two for an omelet.

Here’s another good horsetail recipe.

3 comments:

jh said...

Nice coincidence.
My daughter brought a bunch of these back from nursery school today. They are sitting on the kitchen table. There will be a vote as to whether we use the basic recipe you mention or have them as tenpura.

ilsa said...

Huh, those are edible?? Here I've been trying to eradicate them on my property.

Robert Brady said...

They're only tastily edible for a brief period, as described. (Tea of the horsetail that follows, apart from being a good source of minerals, makes a nice hair rinse.)

jh, hope you enjoyed those, either way.