I often go to the local Asian grocery store, H-Mart, to explore their large, diverse and inexpensive produce section. My local Stop & Shop will have two or three types of mushroom, but H-mart will have 10-none costing more than $4. Occasionally I’ll find a vegetable I’ve never heard of there and take it home, hoping I’ll be able to make something delicious and new.
It was through one of those experiments that I first tried crown daisies (also called chrysanthemum greens). When I got them I imagined they would be a little bitter, like dandelion or mustard greens (which I had been eating a lot). I was pleasantly surprise when I first cooked them, and learned that crown daisy was like nothing I had ever had before.
I cooked my crown daisy by cutting them in half and blanching the stems for 40 seconds and the leaves for 20. The stems were crisp, yet pliable and not at all stringy or fibrous. The leaves had a soft, floral taste that was both subtle and distinct. There was not an ounce of bitterness in the plant. It felt soft, but not mushy.
I began to second guess the sauce I had decided to use on the greens- it was a strong, salty and spicy tahini sauce whos flavors had been intended to stand up to a bitter green, not the gentle, floral leaves I had cooked. But, in the spirit of experimentation I tossed the greens in the sesame sauce.
The daisies surprised me yet again, that subtle, floral flavor swam through, neither obscuring nor being drowned out by the tahini. The two flavors complimented each other well, and it has become a quick favorite in my house. If you are unable to find crown daisy, the tahini sauce will work well on a variety of greens- but on the daisies, it’s magic. See below for the full recipe, and let me know your thoughts!
Crown Daisies in Tahini Sauce
- 1 bunch of crown daisies (also called chrysanthemum greens)
- 2 TBSP tahini
- 2 TBSP soy sauce
- 1 TBSP garlic Chile sauce
- 1 TBSP sesame oil
- 1 tsp sesame seeds
1. Put a medium sauce pan of water on the stove to boil. While that heats up wash the crown daisies and chop them roughly in half so that one half has the thick stems, while the other is thinner with the leaves.
2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the tahini, soy sauce, garlic chile sauce and sesame oil.
3. Once the water has boiled, add the thick stems to the boiling water and quickly blanch for 30-50 seconds. Remove the stems from the pot (save the boiling water!) and let drain in a colander. In the same boiling water add the half of the greens with leaves, and allow to blanch for 15-30 seconds. Poor the greens and water into the colander, and shock with cold water to prevent any further cooking. Shake out as much water as possible, and leave to drain for a few moments.
4. In a serving bowl toss the greens in the tahini sauce. For a finishing touch, sprinkle the sesame seeds on top. Serve immediately, or refrigerate for later.