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


Seri water dropwort

芹 (せり)
Oenanthe javanica
Seri is native to the Northern Hemisphere and Australia. In addition to growing near clean streams, seri is often found near rice paddies in Japan. The seri growing near streams is called mizuzeri [lit. water seri], and the one near rice paddies is called tazeri [rice field seri]. Tazeri is often treated as a (noxious) weed due to its vigorous growth. The vigor of the plant is said to be where its name comes from, at least phonetically. While written in different characters, seri means bidding at wholesale fish and produce markets, and seru, the verb form of seri, means to aggressively compete. In turn, it is one of the easiest vegetables to grow -- you can start with a bunch you buy at a grocery store, by keeping their stems in water for some days or weeks. If stems come with roots, even very short ones, success is almost guaranteed. Once roots are long enough, you can transplant seri to soil, either in a pot or in the ground. The plant will be happy as long as you keep it watered.

As a native plant and long-appreciated seasonal herb, seri appears in a number of old literary works. Harvesting or gift use of seri in early spring is mentioned in "Manyoshu," Japan's oldest poetry collection compiled in the 7th-8th century, and as food, seri is mentioned in "Kojiki," the oldest (early 8th century) history book in Japan.

Seri, as one of the seven spring herbs with medicinal effects, is repeatedly cited in literature beginning in the 13th century or so. Today, seri still takes the stage every year in the custom of eating nanakusa-gayu [seven-herb rice porridge] on January 7 as a wish for good health. The natural season for the seven herbs is not necessarily in January, yet seven-herb packs for nanakusa-gayu are commonly found at shops in early January in Japan.

Among more recent books, "Waka Shokumotsu Honzo," an early 17th-century book on edible herbs, describes seri as "sweet, free of poison, stops bleeding, increases vigor and vitality," and the late 17th-century "Honcho Shokkan" on Japanese food explains that seri "improves intestines, eliminates jaundice, also reduces (body) heat after drinking."

Seri is rich in β-carotene (1900 μg/100 g edible part) and Vitamin C (20 mg). β-carotene is converted into Vitamin A in the human body as necessary and controls active oxygen while maintaining functions of skin and mucus cells and improving the immune system. Other notable nutrients are folic acid (110 μg), niacin (1.2 mg) and pantothenic acid (0.42 mg) among vitamins, and calcium (34 mg), potassium (410mg), magnesium (24 mg) and iron (1.6 mg) among minerals, as well as fiber (2.5 g).

Seri's distinctive aroma contains eugenol, which is also found in clove and bay leaves, and is known for its calming effect. Pyrazine, another aromatic component, is said to help prevent blood clots and strengthen liver functions.

Seri is not a common produce item at Japanese grocery stores in the US. Korean grocery stores are your better bet. Seri is called "minari" in Korean, and is often available in cool/cold seasons.

17 kcal/100 g; 93.7% water, 2.0% protein, 0.1% fat, 3.3% carbohydrate, 1.2% ash

Recipes with seri

Try seri in the following recipes

(Last updated: January 9, 2019)


Anonymous said...

I grow a variety of Japanese/Asian vegetables and seri is, I think, one of the lesser well-known. Reading about seri here on your blog I looked around and managed to find a nursery selling the plants online and am happy I could add seri to my 'collection' today. I'm looking forward to giving it a try in one of your recipes!

neco said...

That's good you were able to find the plant! Seri is a very versatile vegetable or herb that is great raw or cooked. I hope you find seri has some spot at your table.

Polly Oz said...

This is the most detailed article I've seen about water dropwort as a herb. And what a nice big bunch of recipes you link to!

I was just given a small plant; the herb is never seen in my small city so I am grateful I will now be able to grow it myself.

I have a small pond. Would you know how deep can I put a pot of seri? I'd hate to drown it, or rot the stems by putting the pot in too deep.

neco said...

Hi Polly,

Sorry I do not have a good answer. I keep my seri plant in moist soil in a large pot with a water reservoir. As long as the soil is moist or damp, it should be happy. At least one type of seri grows in swamps but I am not sure how deep the water is in its growing area. The other type(s) grow in damp soil, such as right next to rice paddies filled with water. Seri in general is very vigorous, so perhaps you can keep a portion (even a stem, ideally with some roots) in a small pot or container with plenty of water and some soil or ceramic medium as a backup starter.

Polly Oz said...

Thank you, neco. I wonder if the distinction between the two, water and bog plants is a difference in themselves, or a difference caused by the conditions where they are growing. I'll try growing plants in various damp to wet areas and see what they tolerate, where they thrive. It was looking a bit bedraggled after being dug up and stuck in a cup, but within a matter of hours it has perked right up, so I suspect it is a pretty resilient herb.

My little plant will definitely be staying on a window ledge for a while. It is so tiny I'm afraid a lone snail or grasshopper could finish it off and still be hungry!

neco said...

That’s an interesting question. Now I remember that I have seen seri growing in a shallow (approx.15 cm or 6” tall) container with some soil and water to the top of the box outside a Korean restaurant. Not sure about other creatures, but seri's aroma seems to repel pests such as aphids that love other leafy greens. Good luck!