All recipes are for 2 servings unless noted. Oil is canola oil and salt is kosher salt.

2013-03-10

Sakura no ha no shiozuke / salted cherry leaves

When salted, cherry leaves develop a unique tangy aroma and taste. Salted cherry leaves are an ingredient -- often used as a wrapper -- in confectioneries and meals that are especially popular in springtime. For commercial producers, Oshimazakura (Cerasus speciosa [Koidz.] H.Ohba) is the flowering cherry tree of choice for leaves, as Oshimazakura’s leaves are known for their tenderness. However, you can use the leaves of any cherry tree (so far I have only tried flowering cherry trees).




<Ingredients>


50 cherry leaves (56g in photo)
2 tbsp salt
4 tbsp water


<Directions>
1.

Add salt to water, and microwave for 30 seconds to dissolve it as much as possible (OK to have some undissolved salt).




2.

Rinse cherry leaves in a large bowl.
Bring water to boil, and blanch cherry leaves for 15-20 seconds. Immediately transfer to ice water to stop cooking. 


3.

Make stacks of 10-15 leaves, ideally of similar size.
For ease of handling, keep cherry leaves in water while working on this process.

Gently press each stack between your fingers to get rid of excess water, fold in half in the center (optional), and place in a container for salting.


4.

When salt water is cool (at least room temperature), pour over cherry leaves.


Seal with plastic wrap by putting it directly on top, and let sit at room temperature for 1 hour.

5.

Put 500 cc water in a Ziploc bag, place it as a weight on top of cherry leaves in salt water, and refrigerate for 2 days.



6.

(After 2 days)
Drain, wrap in plastic, put in a Ziploc bag or container, and keep refrigerated for up to 1 year or freeze for up to 2 years.  


(After 10 months in photo)

<Notes>
  • Cherry leaves start to turn brown after 6 or 7 months. They can also be used while still green.
  • Individual wrapping is optional.
  • Harvest larger, softer (younger) leaves. Keep approx. 1cm of the petiole so that leaves are easier to handle while salting and cooking. The petiole remains firm after salting, and it is often removed during cooking or before serving.
  • When using the leaves, soak in water for 10-30 minutes to partially desalinate (the last photo above).
  • Whether or not to eat salted cherry leaves used as wrappers is up to you. For some people, salted cherry leaves are only to add aroma and flavor to other ingredients, just like bamboo leaves used as wrappers. 
  • Toxicity of cherry leaves is often brought up, since a substance called coumarin with hepatotoxic and carcinogenic properties is generated during the process of pickling cherry leaves in salt. While average consumption of salt-pickled cherry blossoms or leaves among Japanese people (only occasional and seasonal, several blossoms or 1-2 leaves at a time at most) is considered harmless, it is advisable to avoid a large amount of consumption on a daily basis for an extended period (over 200 kilos of leaves every day for 8 weeks is what I have seen somewhere). Coumarin is also found in fruit and cinnamon; if you are concerned about the safety of cherry blossoms or leaves, this is perhaps a good opportunity to reconsider your overall diet. Here are some references:

Recipes with sakura no ha no shiozuke

(Last updated: April 25, 2016)

No comments: