The Winter Greens have provided the most amazing source of fresh veg over the dismal winter months. Visiting the poly tunnel has been like venturing into a tiny oasis even on the worst of the wintery days.
I have picked every week since the first harvest until at the peak I was almost unable to use all the crops as they reached maturity. As the weather has warmed and dried out the poly more, the plants have started to go to seed, but this has not prevented us from harvesting the tenderest parts of the huge plants and continuing to enjoy fresh, invigorating greens.
My Japanese friend Kyoko (who also provided me with some of the seeds for the plants) has given me a recipe from her mum for one of the Winter Greens – Fuyuna. Delicious!
Kyoko’s Mother’s Traditional Japanese Fuyuna Recipe
You will need:
Abura-age (thin deep fried Tofu, you can buy those frozen in packs of 3-4 sheets in Japanese shop)
Mentuyu (concentrated udon and soba noodle soup-made from fish broth and soya sauce and sugar)
- Wash fuyuna and cut them 3-4cm length.
- Rinse 2 sheets of Abura-age with boiling water in order to to rinse away the oil, cut them as little finger size.
- Cut carrots a little thinner than abura-age.
- You can add pork or chicken as your choice.
- Stir fry Carrots first then add Fuyuna. When those veggies are half cooked then add Abura-age.
- Add Mentuyu to half cover veggies. If the Mentsuyu is too salty then add some water.
- Put the lid on, cook it till carrots cooked – I quite like not too soft!
- Before serving it, cool it down a bit in order for the taste to go into the veggies.
After the mayhem of Christmas & New Year, it was a pleasure to be able to escape to the allotment for a few hours last weekend. And even more pleasurable to witness what awaited me in the poly tunnel: a ready-to-harvest crop of wintergreens.
Despite the inclement weather, the transplanted seedlings have grown into strong, healthy plants that are now large enough to be picked. I took the ‘cut and come again’ approach as you would with lettuce at this stage. I am hopeful that this will encourage new growth and extend the picking season. I suspect that at some point I will uproot whole plants if they continue expanding at current rates.
The only plants not ready for harvest were the spinach. The first lot of seedlings only produced a couple of plants and these are very slow growing in comparison to the brassica varieties. Perhaps they will still do well a bit later on.
I only harvested from the plants with the largest leaves, but could have taken a couple from each for a larger haul. With the Mizuna I took a small clump. The harvest (clockwise from top left) is: Mizuna, Pak Choi, Fuyuna and Choy Sum (flower heads).
I only wanted to lightly cook the greens, and as there wasn’t enough to make a main dish, I fried them in a hot wok in a little seasame oil, sprinkling tamari over them in the final moments of cooking. I then added them to a bowl of hot, spicy celery and potato soup (because its still winter and its too cold for salad!).
Any type of vegetable soup will work – perhaps make the most of the opportunity to showcase your fresh winter greens by using up some of those left over root veggies you have: potatoes, carrots, celeriac, parsnips. You can also add a little cheese after serving; we used vegan blue ‘cheese’, which complimented the soup perfectly. Alternatively, the greens would be a perfect addition to a stir-fry or as a steamed vegetable accompaniment.