Fried foliage

Maple leaves

Nothing says fall like the return of pumpkin spice--it's in everything: lattes, desserts, quickbreads, and even salads. But if you get bored with pumpkin spice and want to try a new fall treat, you may want to look to Japan, says Svati Kirsten Narula of Quartz She writes about an unusual snack from Japan's Minoh Park, a tree-covered valley and tourist destination near Osaka. The park is known for its fall foliage, especially the crimson leaves of the Japanese maple tree, known as momiji. Come November, shops and restaurants in the park sell momiji tempura.

Unlike traditional tempura where the flavor of the battered food shines thorugh, in momiji tempura the leaf imparts almost no taste and lends only the shape, plus a very slight crunch, to the final product. Each tempura maker in and around the park will use her own batter recipe, often including sesame seeds. Legend has it that momiji tempura has been around for over a thousand years, after a traveler was so taken with the trees surrounding the Minootaki waterfall that he decided to fry some leaves and eat them.

There are a few recipes for momiji tempura scattered across the web so you can try it out for yourself. However, if you are a stickler for tradition, you'll have to cure the leaves in salt for a year before you fry them.

Photo by Darcie Boschee

3 Comments

  • ellabee  on  10/17/2014 at 8:23 PM

    :: if you are a stickler for tradition, you'll have to cure the leaves in salt for a year before you fry them. :: Thanks for the heads-up; just in time to cure them for next year's foliage festival! <g>

  • Rinshin  on  10/18/2014 at 2:45 PM

    No taste in maple leaf, instead go for shiso, grape, and cherry leaves.

  • Cubangirl  on  10/19/2014 at 4:11 PM

    Wonder if you could use regular maple or even oak tree leaves and get the same effect.

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